If you're heartbroken by the death of Olga Edwards, you need to hear this story. 

Warning: This story deals with family violence and suicide.

On a Thursday afternoon in July of this year, Olga Edwards walked into her West Pennant Hills home at around 6.30pm. The scene she arrived home to was so horrific, she collapsed from shock.

The solicitor had returned from work to discover the bodies of her 15-year-old son, Jack, and her 13-year-old daughter, Jennifer, who had been killed at the hands of their estranged father.

At the time, police told The Daily Telegraph the Edwards children “were trying to hide in a bedroom and were huddled together when he opened fire”.

Their 68-year-old father, John Edwards, had hired a car so that when he pulled up outside the family home, his children wouldn’t know it was him. He timed the attack just before school holidays, knowing his son and daughter would be at home alone without their mother. Edwards was found dead about 12 hours after his children’s bodies were found, having taken his own life.

It was a case that devastated a community and left those who knew the Edwards family heartbroken. But after that day in July, the tragedy, we thought, was over.

Jennifer and Jack Edwards. Image: Supplied.

Then, on Wednesday morning, police discovered the body of 36-year-old Olga Edwards, inside the same West Pennant Hills home she had found her children in six months earlier. Police say the death is not being treated as suspicious, and no one else was involved.

Olga's mother had been with her daughter in Sydney before returning to Russia earlier this week, with Olga promising to move there permanently after Christmas.

It's the unthinkable end to a horrific story - that of a man who wanted to punish his former partner by taking away the two people she loved most in the world. Speaking to The Daily Telegraph on Wednesday, a senior police source said Olga had been the victim of "a slow murder," ultimately placing the blame on John Edwards for his former partner's death.

Some of the rhetoric around Olga's death, however, has been disturbing.

Australian media have, in various ways, conveyed the sentiment that this woman had nothing left to live for. That it wasn't possible to cope without her children.


It's a perspective that has surfaced repeatedly in tweets and comments, with several parents writing, "without a doubt, if I lost my kids, I'd do the same".

"I couldn't go on if my babies were taken from me," wrote another mum.

We don't currently know, and we may never know, the exact circumstances surrounding Olga Edwards' death. Her state of mind, her grief, her pain, her anger, and how she processed her husband's actions and her children's deaths, will likely remain a mystery.

Everymind, the leading national institute dedicated to reducing mental ill-health, reducing suicide and improving wellbeing, told Mamamia there needs to be careful consideration when it comes to the media portrayal of this story.

Director of Everymind Jaelea Skehan said, "Any sudden death, like this one is really tragic and many people in the community will be saddened to hear this following the murder of [Olga Edwards'] children."

“While people may understandably acknowledge or empathise with the distress and probable trauma that Olga Edwards would have experienced following the death of her children, it is important that media reporting and public narratives try to steer away from presenting her death as inevitable.

“We need to ensure that anyone impacted by traumatic events and profound loss are supported; immediately and in the longer term.”

Skehan also acknowledged that "speculation or focus on the cause of death before confirmation by an official source, may impact on members of the community who are feeling vulnerable".

"Even best intended messaging can inadvertently present suicide as a desired outcome," she added.

While Olga Edwards' cause of death has not yet been confirmed, the dangerous conclusion being drawn from this story is that a logical consequence of tragedy is suicide.

It simply isn't true.

Because there are stories - not Olga's - but other women's, that don't end in the same way.

On a Friday in September 2003, Ingrid Poulson arrived at her father's property, where she had been living with her children, to find a scene of unimaginable horror. Lying in the driveway were four bodies - that of her youngest child, Sebastian, who was 23 months old, her daughter Marilyn, four, her father Peter, 60, and her estranged husband, Prithak.

Ingrid Poulson's father and two children. Image: Supplied.

Only minutes before she arrived, Prithak had killed Ingrid's two children and her father. That morning, Ingrid had called police to report an assault against her by Prithak, who had also violated his AVO. It wasn't until five hours later that police went to arrest him - by which time, he had already committed the murders.

At the time, the Australian media wondered how on earth a person could go on after having faced so much tragedy.

But Ingrid did.

In 2013, she spoke about her experiences at a TEDx conference in Byron Bay. "I made a promise to my father and children I would demonstrate not how low I go, but how high I rise," she said.

"I made it part of my mission to look for what is good – enjoy it, savour it, and be grateful for it.

"Every day I worked on building my bucket of sunshine so that if the dark side of life popped up again, I could be flooded with reasons that life was worth living.

“Everything in my life is not necessarily perfect – I have bad moments, bad moods and bad days, and I also know that things may go wrong for me again – I’m not offered any kind of immunity because I’ve been through a hard time before.

"So I make sure I savour each of my moments, I really seek and search for joy and I build my bucket of sunshine and share that with as many people as possible. I look at what I have, and I’m constantly amazed."

Ingrid now lives in NSW with her husband and two young children. In 2013, she wrote on her blog that the reason she shared her story for TEDx was to "provide hope".

"Perhaps just a glimmer of hope that we can get through the big stuff and be who we are, in control of our own story and writing it anew."

The news of Olga Edwards' death has devastated many Australians. But it's important to remember that no matter what you're faced with, no matter what tragedy life throws at you, and no matter how helpless you feel, there are no inevitabilities. Support and hope can be found in the darkest of places, even if you need to look for it over and over again.

The human spirit is stronger than we think.

If you, or someone you know, is being subjected to domestic violence, call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732), or Relationships Australia, (1300 364 277).

If this post brings up issues for you, or you just need someone to talk to, please call Lifeline on 131 114. You can also visit the Lifeline website here and the Beyond Blue website here.

Griefline also provides free telephone and online counselling support services to people dealing with mental health issues, suicide, carer support, terminal illness, unemployment, and more. 

National: 1300 845 745 (from landlines)

National: (03) 9935 7400 (from mobiles)

00:00 / ???