The death of country music legend Naomi Judd is shining a light again on mental health issues.
Naomi Judd, iconic country star and one-half of the mother-daughter duo The Judds, took her own life on Saturday following a longtime battle with mental illness at 76 years old, multiple sources confirm. A rep for the late singer hasn’t commented.
Naomi’s daughters, Ashley Judd and Wynonna Judd, announced their mother’s death in an emotional statement obtained by PEOPLE on Saturday.
“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness. We are shattered. We are navigating profound grief and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her public,” the statement read. “We are in unknown territory.”
An additional statement from Naomi’s husband of 32 years, Larry Strickland, read: “Naomi Judd’s family request privacy during this heartbreaking time. No additional information will be released at this time.”
Naomi was a longtime advocate for mental wellness, and she wrote an open letter for Mental Health Awareness Week in 2018, shared exclusively with PEOPLE.
“For everyone mourning the death of someone who committed suicide, an inevitable question arises: Why did this happen? Unfortunately, we don’t have very good answers,” wrote the musician at the time. “We do know that suicidal behavior accompanies many behavioral brain disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression. Suicide is actually one of the leading causes of preventable death among these mental illnesses.”
“To understand this issue better, we have to bring the study of suicide into mainstream neuroscience and treat the condition like every other brain disorder,” continued the note. “People who commit suicide are experiencing problems with mood, impulse control and aggression, all of which involve discrete circuits in the brain that regulate these aspects of human experience, but we still don’t understand how these circuits go haywire in the brains of suicide victims.”
The country musician had also been open about her mental health in her 2016 book, River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope, revealing she had suffered from suicidal depression.
“Nobody can understand it unless you’ve been there,” Naomi told PEOPLE at the time. “Think of your very worst day of your whole life – someone passed away, you lost your job, you found out you were being betrayed, that your child had a rare disease – you can take all of those at once and put them together and that’s what depression feels like.”
Sending our condolences to the Judd family.