Though Mindy McCready's suicide was tragic, those close to her insist it wasn't entirely surprising -- which makes it all the more heartbreaking.

McCready was found dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot last night (Feb. 17) following long battles with substance abuse, the law and, as her ex Billy McKnight put it, "demons."

In a tragic twist of irony, the singer had recently written a song called 'I'll See You Yesterday' to help suicidal people deal with their own demons and asked private investigator and pal Danno Hanks to produce a video for the track.

“I would've never guessed that she would've gone ahead and done what she did,’’ Hanks said in retrospect. “Now it’s real clear that’s what she was doing. It’s like she was preparing her last statement in this video.’’

It was less of a surprise for McKnight.

“As sad as it is, it didn't come as a major shock because she’s just been battling demons for so long," McKnight told 'Today.'

Part of why it wasn't surprising is because McCready had previously attempted to take her own life -- and more than once.

“Of course, I was around her when she attempted suicide twice, so I knew it was in her," McKnight added. "I feel for her mother and her family and especially my son, but I can’t say that it shocked me."

McKnight also noted that had McCready remained institutionalized longer following the death of her fiance David Wilson, this tragedy could have been averted. (She was released after just one day.)

“I don’t know how she got out. I don’t have those exact details," he said of McCready's release. "Mindy does have a way of talking her way out of situations that maybe she shouldn't have been so good at."

“Perhaps staying in there and grieving around people that could help her over the death of her fiance could have calmed her down, but the demons that she hasn't [sic] beaten were there, and until she was going to face them, something was going to happen and everyone who knows her personally knew that," McKnight said.

"She would’ve had to probably stay in somewhere quite a long time until she really healed and started looking into herself for getting better."

Almost as sad as the loss itself are the statuses of McCready's two young children, Zander and Zayne.

Zander, McCready and McKnight's 6-year-old son, and Zayne, McCready's 9-month-old son with Wilson, remain in foster care.

“(Zander) shouldn't have been taken from me to begin with," McKnight said. “He was taken out of Florida, and he has a happy home here ... he’s up there all alone. He has no family in Arkansas. He has plenty of family who love him here. He needs to come home."

It may not be so easy: McKnight and McCready had a volatile and occasionally violent relationship. In 2005, McKnight pleaded guilty to domestic assault after injuring McCready badly enough to require hospitalization. He spent 30 days behind bars following the incident.

He continued, “I would like to keep those boys being brothers together and try to turn my son’s life around. He's had a rough first six years, and he deserves better than this, and my heart’s broken for him right now. I'm very worried."

All the more haunting is that it's apparent that McCready had been planning to end her life -- but no one realized it until it was too late.