The best friend of a young woman who died in a tragic suicide pact with her mother has revealed the heartbreaking moment he unknowingly said goodbye to her.
Alex Opacic had no idea that when he hugged Ashley Pouladian, 20, as he left her Greenacre home 10-days ago, it would be the last time he ever saw her.
Tragically, Ms Pouladian and her mother Sisi, 45, were found dead in the back of their family car on Monday, in what police said was a suicide pact. The family’s dog ‘Ray’, a German Shepherd, was also found dead inside the vehicle.
Mr Opacic said looking back, he realises that when the mother and daughter invited him over to visit, it was their way of saying goodbye.
‘Ashley couldn’t look me in the eyes. She couldn’t hug me properly. I felt sick in the stomach when I got home,’ he said.
‘I was at their house for six hours – I was the last person to see them.’
Mr Opacic said Mrs Pouladian never recovered from the death of her son Pouya, 24, after routine surgery to alleviate his sleep apnoea went wrong in March.
And he believes Ashley’s decision to take part in the suicide pact was one made out of love for her mother.
‘Ashley was trying to be positive – she’s such a supportive person – and all her friends understand that she was in the car to be with her mother,’ Mr Opacic said.
‘She did not want to die, she was so excited to go back to university and finally move past it (her brother’s death).’
Ashley was enrolled at the University of Technology Sydney studying medical science and hoped to one day become a dentist, Mr Opacic said.
The Pouladian family moved to Australia from Iran a decade ago to escape religious conflicts and give the children a better life.
Mrs Pouladian’s husband died in 2012 after a battle with cancer.
Pouya had taken on the role of provider and carer for his mother and sister, working three jobs to support the family while he studied to become a pilot.
‘Their mother was such a beautiful person, but she was really really broken. They had lost their father to cancer almost five years ago now… it really broke the family,’ Mr Opacic said.
‘Then, when they lost Pouya, they were broken to say the least. Ashley stopped going out or seeing her friends to look after her mother because she was so worried about her.
‘They hadn’t seen anyone for a month, except for my family and then on Wednesday (July 25) her mother text me asking me to come over the next day.
‘On the Monday that it happened I messaged Ashley asking if she wanted to go and get tea, but it was too late.’
Mrs Pouladian had reportedly told friends she was considering taking her own life in the days after her son’s shock death.
Relatives reportedly kept a close eye on the heartbroken mother for weeks after, but put the comments down to the grief of losing her son.
Pouya’s girlfriend Pilar Mempin has now written on a GoFundMe page that Sisi had ‘devoted her life to raising two wonderful children’ after the death of her husband.
‘She was a selfless person who always put everyone before herself, dedicating her time to helping others, which included giving food to the homeless,’ Ms Mempin wrote.
‘She also loved to garden and grew her own vegetables in their backyard. She treated everyone in her life as if they were her family.
‘Ashley was a dedicated, young woman who was truly beautiful inside and out and always wore a gorgeous, infectious smile.
‘After the loss of her father, she was always there for Sisi and spent most of her time with and looking out for her and I can honestly say they were the best of friends.’
Ashley was in her first year of university and aspired to study dentistry.
‘She was a loving daughter, sister and friend with a big heart and fiercely loyal to everyone in her life,’ Ms Mempin wrote. ‘Words cannot describe what angels they were.
‘They will be missed by many and will forever be in our hearts. I only hope that the whole family are reunited together and at peace.’
Ms Mempin started the GoFundMe page to cover costs of their funeral services.
‘It would be greatly appreciated if this could be shared in the hopes that Sisi and Ashley’s story is received with kindness and understanding,’ she wrote.
‘I hope that if someone who reads this and is thinking there is no other way or feels that it is not worth going on, that they know there is always someone in your life who you can talk to. There is no shame in asking for help – it is ok to not be ok.’
A handwritten note was left on the front door of the mother and daughter’s home before their bodies were found reading: ‘Dear neighbours, please call the police we are in our car in the backyard carport.’
The family’s beloved German shepherd Ray was also found dead inside the black Hyundai.
Mrs Pouladian and her daughter had recently replaced all of the old furniture in their home.
Their friends said this is so it would look its best for whoever had to empty the house for them.
On March 9, Ashley took to social media to announce the tragic death of her brother, 24.
‘Due to… unforeseen events post-operation, my 24-year-old brother, Pouya Pouladian, passed away a few days ago,’ she wrote on Facebook.
‘He was an amazing and hardworking person who never failed to care deeply for my mother and I. He was truly our inspiration in life.
‘Words cannot describe what an angel he was… Rest easy Captain Pouya.’
If you or anyone need someone to talk to, contact Lifeline Australia 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636
• Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467
• Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800
• MensLine Australia – 1300 78 99 78
If you need an interpreter to help you get in touch with any of the above services, call, Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450