NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — We’ve all seen the articles about how country icon Naomi Judd used a gun to take her life. With the story everywhere, including discussions all over social media about someone so famous and beloved, the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network has some concerns.
“Especially with the high profile celebrities like Naomi Judd, Robin Williams, Anthony Bourdain, sometimes we see sensationalism in the media, which could lead to contagion,” said executive director Misty Liestch. “‘Oh, this person died by suicide, look at how much attention they received, look at how famous they are now. I want that. I need that. I’m going to attempt.'”
The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network isn’t asking people not to talk about suicide. They want discussions about mental health to be more common, and they support daughter Ashley Judd’s bravery in discussing how her mother died.
“It’s that courage and bravery that helps to destigmatize and break down those barriers maybe for others who are watching,” said Liestch. “This person was having those thoughts, right? Maybe if I’m having those thoughts, maybe I should go and get help.”
As much as the Naomi Judd story has been shared on social media, Liestch asks for people to accompany their posts with more encouragement for others to seek help when needed.
“It’s being able to look at their loved one or their friend and say, ‘you know what? Something’s a little different, and I’m really worried about you. Are you okay? You’re not OK? I’ve got these numbers,'” said Liestch.
Outside Lietsch’s office is the International Suicide Prevention Wall, featuring pictures of people from all over the world who died from suicide. The faces on the wall are helping defeat the stigma about mental health just like Naomi Judd did with her frank conversations about mental health.
“I think Naomi Judd is one of our nation’s treasures,” said Liestch. “For her to have the motivation to say this is something I struggle with, and I battle it every single day. That’s powerful.”