Influencer Lee MacMillan Dead by Suicide at 28

·4 min read

Lee MacMillan, an influencer known for documenting her global travels in a van, has taken her own life after battling depression. She was 28.

Lee was hit and killed by an Amtrak train near Santa Barbara, Calif. on Friday, March 26, local police said, according to local ABC and FOX news affiliate KEYT. Authorities said the influencer, a Canadian citizen who was living in the Santa Barbara area for about six months, was recently reported missing and had left her home without taking her car, wallet, keys, ID and phone. KEYT reported that police said they feared that Lee may have been suicidal.

"After living an extraordinary life, and fighting a brave battle with depression, our hearts are shattered to share that Lee took her life on Friday," read a post on her Instagram page on Monday, March 29. "She was the brightest light, a magnetic force of nature and was loved by so so many."

Lee and Australian partner Max Bidstrup documented on Instagram and YouTube their Dodge Sprinter van trips through Canada and South America with their dog, Occy. The globe-trotting couple announced their breakup in January 2020. Occy went to live in Australia with Max, who also kept the van and continued traveling on his own.

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Last November, Lee introduced her Instagram followers to her new boyfriend, Jordan Chiu, a fellow van life enthusiast who she met during her past travels.

Lee MacMillan, Instagram
Lee MacMillan, Instagram

In January, Lee revealed on Instagram that she had acquired a camper van of her own and was in the process of reconstructing its interior to turn it into a "new adventure mobile."

"You were a dream beyond my wildest dreams," Jordan wrote on Instagram on Tuesday, March 30. "You filled my heart up full to bursting and stretched it further than what I ever imagined was possible. You were my person, my partner, my best friend. Every day with you was an adventure and I hope wherever you are you've found peace and snuggles. Rest easy puppy. I love you more than you will ever know."

Lee's ex Max also shared a memorial tribute to Lee, along with photos of the pair during happy times.

"It was always you [red heart emoji]," he wrote. "You were the best thing to ever happen to me. You were the best person I have ever met. I fell in love with you the day we met yet you were still the stronger one that said 'I love you' first. I never stopped loving you Mountie, I hope you know that [red heart emoji]. I will always cherish my time with you in this world and hope beyond hope to see you in the next. Save some mini eggs for me."

Lee's page's memorial post included a message to her fans about mental health awareness. It read, "If we can do one thing for Lee now, in the midst of this soul-crushing loss, it's to spread the message that mental health is just as real as physical health, and that illness can strike anyone, no matter how unlikely they may seem. It's ok to not be ok, it's ok to ask for help, it's absolutely necessary to ask for help."

"Lee was an advocate for mental health," the post continued. "She was candid and open about her own struggles. She was receiving help: from professionals, from family, from friends. She had support around her. She was not alone, she was not trying to fight this alone. And yet she still succumbed to this terrible illness. It is more nuanced than we can, or do, appreciate or understand."

The post concluded with a message about social media. "Life is more complex than a single social media post. Things are complicated. Don't believe what you see online. Get out into the world and talk to your loved ones. Check in. Ask them genuinely how they're doing. Be available to help. To listen. To offer help. Remove the stigma of asking for help. Let's spread the awareness of this issue, for Lee and every one else who needs to hear this: #speakupforlee." And hold your loved ones tight. Tell them you love them. Because life can change in an instant. We will miss her with every fiber of our hearts."

If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).