The overwhelmed New York mother who drowned herself and three kids in the Hudson River tried her best to provide her family with a happy home life -- but was consistently let down by their deadbeat father, who failed to provide the love or money they desperately needed, her friends told the New York Post.

Lashanda Armstrong made a dying declaration on Facebook just 30 minutes before the fatal plunge, writing, "I'm sorry everyone forgive me please for what I'm gonna do . . . This is it!!!"

Her friends had no doubt that Armstrong was just trying to escape Pierre, who was creating a dead-end life for her and the kids. 

Armstrong, 25, kept a steady job and took college classes but was abandoned by Jean Pierre -- the fly-by-night father of the three dead children -- and had nowhere to turn for help.

"He was terrible to her. He was very domineering and controlling over her. He was just so cruel. She just wanted a normal family," said one friend, Christine Santos, 29, who lives nearby.

The dad -- who was arrested in March because of $11,000 in unpaid support -- also threatened to claim custody of the kids.

"That's what pushed her over the edge," said Santos. "He must have broken her spirit and taken away her will to live."

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