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Blood Tangent | Column

Photo Credit: Bobby Jones

think the tragedies that really make my blood turn cold are the things that could literally happen to anyone, at anytime, or in any place. The chances are I’m not going to be a victim of a cult or get trapped on top of a mountain and will subsequently be forced to eat my own feet, but hey, never say never.

I often find myself in a 10-hour Reddit hole in the Unresolved Mysteries or Conspiracy sub-Reddit forums—this might also be why I think I might die every single minute of every single day—and I spent the better part of my afternoon reading Reddit comments about the death of Elisa Lam. Google tells me “you’ve visited this site on 4/02/2018.”

Elisa Lam was a 21-year-old from Canada whose body was found in a water tank on the roof of the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles in 2013. The most inexplicably bizarre (and tragic) component of this case is the footage of Lam in the hotel elevator before she died.

In the elevator Lam hunches over to the control panel and presses every single floor button in the middle of the panel. She then quickly steps back to the wall of the small box of an elevator. The door doesn’t close. She steps to the threshold, peeks her head out from the doors, looks both ways, and then quickly steps back in, backing herself into a literal corner. This was all the footage was. The elevator doors didn’t just suddenly close and decapitate her like some horror movie; there was no gory conclusion.

In this footage Lam behaves somewhere between frightened and trying to escape some predator as if she is playing a twisted game of hide and seek. It was later revealed that Lam suffered from bipolar disorder and that the toxicology reports found that she had only taken some of the medications that kept her stable. This was a woman in the middle of a psychotic break.

After reading all I could take on Lam and other girls with mental illness getting trapped in air ducts or walk-in freezer or people getting decapitated by a schizophrenic with a machete on a Greyhound bus that then has to be pulled over in the middle of nowhere Canada for 8 hours, and subsequently dying, the thought of reading or listening to anything related to the macabre filled me with such an overwhelming sense of dread. Maybe it’s because there was no malice involved, that it wasn’t the wrong place at the wrong time, but just people who didn’t get the help they needed.

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