Ashley Judd called for more protection of the privacy of bereaved families after she said she was left feeling like a “potential suspect” during police interviews after her mother’s suicide.
The the heat The 54-year-old actress spoke about the unimaginable agony she went through this spring when her mother, Grammy-winning country star Naomi Judd, was found shot at the singer’s Nashville home. In a powerful personal article, published Wednesday in The New York TimesAnd the Ashley described April 30 as “the most heartbreaking day of my life.”
“The shock of discovering her body in labor and then being caught haunts my nights,” Judd wrote. Last week, a report from a medical examiner in Nashville said that Naomi had died of a gunshot wound to the head, and that she had lived a “significant” history of anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. The report added that Ashley found her mother badly wounded along with a “suicidal note” and a pistol nearby. Watchman reports.
In her article, Judd explains how the agony of losing a loved one has been exacerbated by intrusive law enforcement practices and legislation.
“As we continue with my family to mourn our loss, the cruel and misinformation that has spread about her death, and about our relationships with her, haunts my days,” she wrote. “The horror of this will only be exacerbated if the details surrounding her death are disclosed under Tennessee law that generally permits the publication of police reports, including family interviews, from closed investigations.”
She said bereaved family members are “often abused” under laws that allow public disclosure of police files, with comments “completely unprotected” during interviews with law enforcement and other personal information that is ultimately made available for anyone to see.
“I felt cornered and helpless when law enforcement officers started questioning me while my mother’s last life was fading away,” she wrote in the article, adding that she had to answer investigative questions rather than be with her mother in her last hours. She stressed that the police she dealt with were not “bad or wrong” to follow established procedures, but the procedures themselves need to be addressed.
“It is now known that law enforcement officials should be trained in how to respond and investigate traumatic cases, but the men who were present left us feeling bereft of any sensitive boundaries, and I was questioned and, in my case, as if I was a possible suspect in my mother’s suicide “.
Earlier in August, Judd said that she and her family had applied to the court to block the publication of the investigation file into her mother’s case, explaining that the family had “secrets” and “a legal right to protect our privacy in this particular matter.”
But she also called for changes to laws and legal procedures to protect the privacy of anyone who might be affected by the publication of shocking details about the death. Judd specifically said she had “deep sympathy” for Vanessa Bryant, who recently won a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Los Angeles County after leaked footage of the helicopter crash that killed her basketball star husband Kobe and their daughter Gianna.
“I hope that leaders in Washington and state capitals will provide some basic protection to those involved in the police response to mental health emergencies,” she added. “These emergencies are tragedies, not public scene materials.”
If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or call the Crisis Text Line by texting 741741. You can also text or Dial 988.
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