Mark Humphrey, Associated Press
HEBER SPRINGS, Ark. — Perhaps there was one heartbreak too many for Mindy McCready.
The former country star apparently took her own life on Sunday at her home in Heber Springs, Ark. Authorities say McCready died of a suspected self-inflicted gunshot to the head and an autopsy is planned. She was 37, and left behind two young sons.
McCready had attempted suicide at least three times since 2005, as she struggled to cope amid a series of tumultuous public events that marked much of her adult life.
Speaking to The Associated Press in 2010, McCready smiled wryly while talking about the string of issues she'd dealt with over the last half-decade.
"It is a giant whirlwind of chaos all the time," she said of her life. "I call my life a beautiful mess and organized chaos. It's just always been like that. My entire life things have been attracted to me and vice versa that turn into chaotic nightmares or I create the chaos myself. I think that's really the life of a celebrity, of a big, huge, giant personality."
This time it seems the whirlwind overwhelmed McCready.
Her death comes a month after that of David Wilson, her longtime boyfriend and the father of her youngest son. He is believed to have shot himself on the same porch of the home they shared in Heber Springs, a small vacation community of large lakefront houses about 65 miles north of Little Rock. His death also was investigated as a suicide.
It was the most difficult moment in a life full of them. McCready issued a statement last month lamenting his death. And she called him her soul mate and a caregiver to her sons in an interview with NBC's "Today" show.
"I just keep telling myself that the more suffering that I go through, the greater character I'll have," she said, according to a transcript of the interview.
Like so many times before, McCready showed a little toughness in the midst of a personal storm, again endearing herself to her fans. But as usual, the brave face for the camera hid a much more complicated internal struggle that surfaced publicly time and again over the last 10 years.
This time, along with her remembrances of finding Wilson as he lay dying, she also answered questions about whether they'd argued earlier that evening about an affair and if she'd shot him.
"Oh, my God," the "Today" transcript reads. "No. Oh, my God. No. He was my life. We were each other's life."
It's unclear what circumstances led to McCready taking her own life, but it appears she was struggling again with twin issues that have persisted for years — substance abuse and the custody of her children. She checked into court-ordered rehab and gave her children up to foster care earlier this month after her father asked a judge to intervene, saying she'd stopped taking care of herself and her sons and was abusing alcohol and prescription drugs.
It's not clear where her sons, 6-year-old Zander and infant Zayne, were Sunday.
A deputy stationed outside McCready's home Sunday night referred questions to the Cleburne County sheriff, who was unavailable. Yellow crime-scene tape cordoned off the front yard and a dark-colored pickup truck sat in the driveway.
News of McCready's death spread quickly Sunday night on Twitter, with major country stars paying their respects to the onetime Nashville darling.
"Too much tragedy to overcome. R.I.P Mindy McCready," wrote Natalie Maines of The Dixie Chicks.
And Carrie Underwood added: "I grew up listening to Mindy McCready...so sad for her family tonight. Many prayers are going out to them... ."
On Monday, neighbors who never met McCready but knew well of her very public struggles expressed grief.
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