Country music star Mindy McCready committed suicide Sunday at her home in Arkansas.
She shot her dog, then she shot herself.
Her two young children were not in the house at the time. They had been removed from her custody by the Arkansas Division of Children and Family Services when a visit to her home at the request of her oldest son’s father revealed that McCready, a noted alcoholic and drug addict, was under the influence of alcohol.
A friend close to McCready commented in a recent article on CNN.com that a subsequent court order from the Arkansas Division of Children and Family Services stating their intention to have the children sent to McCready’s mother was the “the nail in her coffin, the thing that sent her over the edge.”
My heart goes out to McCready’s family, particularly her children who will have to endure a lifetime without their mother.
I can only imagine the despair and desperation McCready was feeling the moment she decided to take her own life. She was suffering at the deepest level, with the loss of her fiancé 35 days earlier, also from a suicide, and the possibility of losing custody of her children.
However, I can’t help but feel those concerned with the children were in the right here. McCready’s many years of drug addiction and alcohol abuse showed her inability to cope with tragedy. A surprise visit to her home from Child and Family Services revealed she had slipped back into her destructive coping mechanisms. She tested positive for alcohol.
What would have happened had the children been in the home with her? A deeply depressed alcoholic in a house full of guns is a toxic combination. I don’t want to speculate as to why McCready decided not to seek treatment for her deep-seated issues and depression, but to blame an entity and concerned family as the precipice for her decision to take her own life is unfair.
The children were put first here, and their removal likely spared them from having to witness their mother’s horrific death, if not saved their lives.
I’m not trying to discount McCready’s serious issues. I’ve had people close to me who have suffered from drug abuse and alcoholism. It’s like living in an underground ice shaft. It’s dark, it’s cold and the slick walls make it impossible to climb out of the hole. You constantly try to claw your way up the sides, only to end up at the bottom once again. The only way out is to search for that rope dangling above and trust others to help pull you out of the chasm.
How often do we read about children who have been let down by child protective services? Here, we have an example of a division doing exactly what needed to be done, only to be pinned as the straw that broke McCready’s will to live.
Mindy McCready was a successful country music singer. She was the mother of two boys, Zander, six, and Zayne, 10 months. She had a public battle with drugs and alcohol for over 15 years. She had attempted suicide three times prior to her death, once while pregnant with her oldest son.
On Sunday, she made a devastating decision that will forever affect those close to her, particularly her children. She failed to notice that dangling lifeline.
But the Arkansas Division of Children and Family Services should not be blamed for a troubled star’s desperate act. They did what they had to do, no matter how difficult the task.
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta