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Crime News

Heartbreaking Tumblr Posts Made By Elisa Lam Before She Mysteriously Died At The Cecil Hotel

Elisa Lam updated her Tumblr blog frequently in the days and months before her disappearance and death, leading many to feel connected to the young woman.

By Gina Tron
The Elisa Lam Case, Explained

The mysterious disappearance and death of Elisa Lam at a Los Angeles hotel in 2013 became an international curiosity for several reasons, including the Tumblr posts she made ahead of her death, which drew in both true crime sleuths and those who empathized with her mental state and openness in her writing.

The 21-year-old Canadian student, who was also known by her Cantonese name Lam Ho Yi, vanished in January 2013 while staying at the Cecil Hotel, located in L.A.'s notoriously dangerous Skid Row neighborhood.

Lam's body was recovered weeks later in a water tower on top of the hotel roof. As Netflix's new docuseries “Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel” details, investigators ultimately ruled that her death was accidental. They concluded that she had died of accidental drowning, with her diagnosis of bipolar disorder being a significant factor in her death. As the series points out, she was diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder, which can include psychotic side effects and breaks.

Lam, a prolific blogger, wrote often about her struggles with mental health on her Tumblr blog, which is still online. Several posts went up following her death, presumably because they were scheduled on the platform before she died. Her blog, a mix of fashion images, quotes, and original posts was anchored at the top with a quote by “Fight Club” author Chuck Palahniuk: “You’re always haunted by the idea you’re wasting your life.” 

Lam often posted to her blog dozens of times a day.

“Depression sucks," one post that’s shown in the series states. "Period. If someone says to you that they have depression don’t ask why. There is no why. Tell them every day you love them. Remind them every day it will get better."

The series pulled quotes from Lam’s Tumblr, “because it was the most honest and authentic way to create a three-dimensional portrait of her,” director Joe Berlinger told The Independent, adding that he wanted the docuseries to be “victim-focused.”

“She’s not here to speak for herself, but this is the closest thing we could get to that because we’re hearing directly from her about how she was feeling and what she was thinking about,” he added. “We wanted to make sure we were telling Elisa’s story as accurately as possible.”

Several online sleuths who became focused on Lam’s story and participated in the docuseries noted that because of her blog posts, they felt deeply connected to the young woman. Users continue to read her blog and feel close to her and relate to her words to this day.

In one post, made just days before she vanished, she wrote, "I’m not a professional depressed person. I am so much more than that and these people are my reminders that I am very lucky."

Days before that, the University of British Columbia student wrote, "My main faults are that I talk too much, I have a naturally loud voice and I have no filter."

Just days earlier, she eerily wrote, "I don’t post any photos of myself or repost Facebook snippets because I prefer it that way. This is entirely myself and maybe one day you will come across me."

Here are a few more heartbreaking excerpts from Lam's blog:

“my laptop screen is brighter than my future” - Jan. 29, 2013

“I talked to anyone and everyone hoping for a person I can depend on. But no one wants to have someone else’s problems thrust upon them and be expected to hold them up. I get why; we’re selfish people, we have our own issues to deal with how could you possibly take on someone else’s. When you’ve left high school and you’re busy trying to become ‘accomplished’ what time do you have except for shallow infrequent bursts of conversation with an acquaintance.” - Jan. 3, 2013:


YouTuber John Lordan, who became a well-known Lam theorist after her death, told the producers of the docuseries, "I think we got cheated of a brilliant writer in the making," citing her openness and honesty.

The docuseries ends on a poignant Lam quote: "I suppose that is the human condition: to feel so big, so important but just a flicker in the universe and the struggle to come to terms with those two truths."

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