SharonA, I am glad you brought up those questions. I didn't want to say it because it sounded too paranoid, but I've really been wondering about the father; whether he might have been involved, driven her to it, or whatever.
This is not judgement, just speculation. Religion may have had a part in it, especially if one considers her supposed comments that her children were damaged. Where did that judgement of herself and her children come from? Yes, it could have come from deep within her apparently damaged psyche, but could easily have come from years of verbal and mental abuse.
I am fortunate that I grew up being praised and therefore had a healthy ego. Married at 16, with a baby on the way, whom I had at 17, my first husband who was 19, came from an abusive, alcoholic family. From the day we were married until the day I left him 5 years later, there was never a time went by that he did not mentally and verbally abuse me. At 5'2", I was 110 lbs and I had a name, but I was "short, fat, & dumpy" and "Hey, you!" as far as he was concerned. He beat on one of our dogs (before I gave it away), except when I pointed a small gun at him and told him to stop and one time shot it over his head to stop him.
I am convinced the main reason I didn't wind up beaten or dead, or worse, killing him myself, is because I met a man who told me how beautiful I was and treated me just as beautifully. With his support and nurturing of my very bruised ego, I was able to take my by then, two children and leave. There were other supportive factors, family members to live with, friends to talk to, BUT in those days, spousal abuse, and even child abuse were still not really talked about or considered that awful.
Anyway, I just meant that as an example of how a spouse can have profound effects on the other. We do not know if that is the case, but something in me does not trust this father.