How Elisa Lam’s Tragic Death During A Manic Episode Can Teach Mental Health Professionals About Signals

Isolation is the most dangerous aspect of experiencing a manic or depressive episode. In the tragic case of Elisa Lam, whose the topic of Netflix’s Crime Case: Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, a young Chinese-Canadian woman is found dead, floating in the hotel’s water tank. No, not the plot of Dark Water which is a thriller about a mother-daughter duo living in a haunted apartment building who drowns on the roof in a water tank, but a story about bipolar disorder. Internet sleuths put out tons of theories surrounding both her disappearance and her death. Her tumblr page is still a space for lost and confused souls, pondering the meaning of their own individual lives while struggling with their own mental awareness. How do we stop the next Elisa Lam? How can our government take more precautions regarding young Americans living with mental health conditions? Why hasn’t anything already been done? When will we stop being reactive to mental health in America as opposed to being proactive? The answers to the questions can only be sought from those of us experiencing an episode.

Kim Kardashian lost her marriage to Kanye West due to mental health. She tried to shed light on it in a public way which was also met with negativity and hatred.

We seem to have lost all hope when it comes to empathizing with folks who lose their minds fall into psychosis and literally go crazy. Today the World is reacting to an interview with Meghan Markle and Oprah where the Duchess of Sussex, or maybe she’s an ex-Duchess who knows, shares candidly about suicidal thoughts and ideation.

Meghan went to an event with her husband just so that she would not be alone. She did not trust herself by herself. Is this something that you’ve experienced personally? In the film A Star Is Born, Bradley Cooper’s character kills himself while his partner, played by Lady Gaga is waiting for him to come cameo at her show. Isolation is detrimental. We see the same outcome in the prison system, with cases like Kalief Browder from the Bronx. Browder along with his mother both lost their lives due to mental health anguish caused by our faulty Criminal Justice reform systems. Browder was left in solitary confinement for more than 24 months which severely deteriorated his mental capacity. His mother, suffered similar deterioration of her mental state brought on by prolonged helplessness which turned to hopelessness.

Lam’s story went viral prior to Covid lockdown restrictions yet we are living in a time where access to mental health resources and the stigma caused by mental health diagnoses are an everyday occurrence in the United States. In the ending scenes of the docu-series we hear followers of Lam’s story, her death, and her living Tumblr page, share how much of themselves they see in her sadness. In her weakened mental state we found actual strength – strength in sharing her experiences with a blank page.

How many more experiences do we need to share before we prevent suicide in America?

Tahyira Savanna runs a podcast for Black Mental health titled “Live Hangouts: Tahyira Keeps It Too Reel”, check out her latest episode here:

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Follow my tweets for more writing @TAsterisk

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