Topanga is home to about 8,000 people and technology is classified as being a “census-designated space.” Despite its technical moniker, Topanga is a lovely community nestled between Malibu and the Pacific Palisades, two of the most luxurious communities in the greater Los Angeles area.

Topanga is a bit different from its larger neighbors. It commonly is called a “Bohemian” community because of the significant number of artists, musicians, and filmmakers that reside in Topanga.

A Possible Suicide That Still Haunts Topanga

There are situations in which death appears to be a suicide, although an absolute determination proves impossible. Such was the case of the death of Alan Wilson, of the band Canned Heat – a death that has haunted the people of Topanga since 1970.

On September 3 of that year, Wilson told bandmate Bob Hite that he wanted to sleep under the stars behind Hite’s house in Topanga. He did venture out to a grassy area behind the residence. At dawn, Wilson was dead.

The LA County Coroner ultimately determined that Wilson died from acute barbiturate intoxication. At that time, Wilson joined what is known as the infamous 27 Club. The club represents famous musicians, including Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, who died at the age of 27.

Although the coroner, together with the Topanga Community Police Station, was able to rule out homicide, they were never absolutely certain that Wilson took his own life as opposed to accidentally overdosing.

Wilson did have a history of suicide attempts. He also suffered from depression. However, he didn’t leave a suicide note or did he tell Hite, the homeowner, or anyone else of any suicidal thoughts any time in before his death.

In the aftermath of Wilson’s death, some people have come to conclude that the grounds are haunted. Hite’s house would end up washed away in a flood. Sometime later, construction on new house began, but it was swept away in a flood. The remains of the house under construction remain at the property.

Visitors continue to make pilgrimages to the scene of Wilson’s death. Some come to pay their respects to the deceased musician. Others make the trek because of the contention that the location is haunted.

The Aftermath of Suicide in Topanga

Because of the small population of Topanga, suicides are nor common occurrences, but they do happen. None have been as notorious, or as uncertain, as the death of Alan Wilson. The first step a person must take when suicide is discovered is to contact the Topanga Police:

Topanga Community Police Station
21501 Schoenborn St.
Canoga Park, CA 91304
(818) 756-4800 

Substance abuse and addiction can heighten the risk of suicide, as may have been the case with Alan Wilson. Understanding this connection, one course that can be taken to reduce the risk of suicide is an entry into a dual diagnosis treatment program.

The Psychiatric Times reports:

Individuals with a substance use disorder…are almost 6 times more likely to report a lifetime suicide attempt than those without a substance use disorder. Numerous studies of individuals in drug and alcohol treatment show that past suicide attempts and current suicidal thoughts are common.

Topanga is too small to maintain such a program. However, there is such a treatment program in a community directly next to Topanga:

The Canyon at Peace Park Treatment Center
2900 S. Kanan Dume Rd
Malibu, CA 90265
(310) 774-4244  

Survivors of Suicide Support Services and Resources

Residents of Topanga who’ve lost loved ones as a result of suicide can access a number of services and resources to assist as they process their grief. These include grief support groups serving the needs of Topanga residents:

Recovery from a Loss
(424) 331-1084

Grieving Group
(323) 672-4035

Grief Group
(424) 321-6283

Topanga Suicide Cleanup

As was mentioned, suicides are not that commonplace in Topanga itself. Nonetheless, there are situations in the community in which a resident committed suicide using a gun or knife. There are also situations in which a person commits suicide by another means, but his or her remains are not immediately found. In these three scenarios, professional suicide cleanup is recommended.

Professional suicide cleanup is recommended because of the potential risks associated with exposure to blood and other bodily fluids. Harmful and even deadly pathogens can exist in blood and other bodily fluids. In addition, after the trauma of losing someone to suicide, a person’s mental and emotional status need not be further inflamed by the gruesome task of cleaning up after the death of a loved one.

Photo Courtesy of Kenneth Moore.

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