McAllister died at an Ohio hospital on Tuesday
Lex died at a Columbus, Ohio, hospital on Tuesday, where she was taken after an apparent suicide attempt. Julie Turner McAllister, Lex’s sister-in-law, tells PEOPLE that the family gathered to say goodbye when she died at 2:35 a.m.
“Her mom and dad, her brother and myself, her sister, and a cousin named Jana that had been raised like another sibling were all at bedside,” she says, explaining that the 31-year-old had taken a combination of two different prescription medications mixed with Tylenol and aspirin.
Julie, an ER nurse, says her sister was taken to the facility where she works. “We were there when she came in, and she was alert at first, and then her health just declined rapidly, I think from the pills settling in her body.”
The close-knit McAllister clan all live within 15 minutes of each other, and made it a point to get together “a few times a month,” Julie explains.
“Just two weeks ago we had family game night at her mom’s house there was probably 20 people there,” says Julie, who is married to Lex’s brother Josh, adding that Lex’s “love of family” was always obvious.
“She was protective,” she also says. “She loved her family so much. Just a couple months ago she started family dinner night at a restaurant once a month.”
Julie said that Lex, who competed on Jake Pavelka‘s season of The Bachelor in 2010, was nostalgic for her youth – and relished her relationship with her two siblings.
“She always put throwback photos up of her childhood,” says Julie. “My husband and I talked and we can’t figure out, ‘Did she do that because that was the last time she was happy?’ I don’t know, we’ll never know.”
Lex spent time as a radio host, but the real title she cherished was that of aunt to Julie’s four children: Kyleigh, 14, Klaire, 12, Kenzie, 8, and Joshua, 3.
“She loved being their aunt,” shared Julie. “Her and my youngest daughter spoke British, I don’t know why, they just had an act. They would break out this British accent and they would speak for 45 minutes completely in a British accent and nobody else could talk to them when they were doing so. She had her little niche with each of them. They’re devastated.”
The adults had fun too: Lex and Julie would have “kitchen dance parties” with Josh, listening to the blonde’s favorite: “old school rap.”
“These are the kind of things I’m hanging onto right now,” she says.
On Tuesday, Pavelka told PEOPLE exclusively that he “vividly” remembers Lex from his season’s first night.
“She was a pretty girl. I’m really sad,” Pavelka said. “I feel horrible for her family and I can’t imagine what they’re going through. My prayers are with her friends and family.”
The McAllister family urges anyone struggling with thoughts of suicide to reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-273-8255.