Singer-songwriter Judy Collins performs a concert in December 2009.

Singer-songwriter Judy Collins performs a concert in December 2009.

It has been said that singer-songwriter Judy Collins has a voice like an angel. But in her life she has faced her fair share of demons.

Collins grew up in Colorado in a musical family. She was a piano prodigy, but as a teenager joined the folk music movement and began performing at clubs.

In 1968, Collins released “Both Sides, Now,” written by Joni Mitchell. The song became a major hit, making Billboard’s top ten. Since then, Judy Collins’ musical career has spanned five decades and includes several top-ten hits and gold- and platinum-selling albums.

Collins says she has struggled with addiction and depression since she was a young woman. In 1992, she experienced the greatest tragedy of her life when her 33 year-old son took his own life.

Collins turned to music to deal with her grief, and also began researching suicide more broadly in an attempt to understand her son’s experience, as well as her own feelings of guilt.

The result was a book titled, “Sanity and Grace: A Journey of Suicide, Survival, and Strength.” Judy Collins joined Diane on The Diane Rehm Show in October 2003 to discuss her son’s death, her own struggles, and why she feels it is so critical to break the veil of secrecy that surrounds the topic of suicide.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to be connected to a trained counselor at a suicide crisis center nearest you.

This interview is part of Diane’s special summer series in which she shares some of her favorite interviews with singers, songwriters and musicians from her archives. 


  • Judy Collins Singer, songwriter, activist and author of numerous books, including "Sanity and Grace: A Journey of Suicide, Survival, and Strength," "Sweet Judy Blue Eyes: My Life in Music" and the novel, "Shameless."

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