Lee MacMillan, a social media influencer known for documenting her global travels in a van, committed suicide following a battle with depression. She was 28 years old.
Lee was struck and killed by an Amtrak train on Friday, March 26, according to local ABC and FOX news affiliate KEYT. According to authorities, the influencer, a Canadian citizen who had been living in the Santa Barbara area for approximately six months, was recently reported missing after leaving her home without taking her car, wallet, keys, identification, or phone. According to KEYT, police expressed concern that Lee may have been suicidal.
“After living an extraordinary life and fighting a valiant battle with depression, our hearts are shattered to share that Lee took her own life on Friday,” read a Monday, March 29 post on her Instagram page. “She shone brighter than the sun, was a magnetic force of nature, and was adored by so many.”
Lee and his Australian partner Max Bidstrup documented their Dodge Sprinter van trip through Canada and South America with their dog, Occy, on Instagram and YouTube. In January 2020, the globe-trotting couple announced their separation. Occy relocated to Australia with Max, who retained the van and continued traveling independently.
Lee introduced her Instagram followers to her new boyfriend, Jordan Chiu, a fellow van life enthusiast whom she met on one of her previous travels.
Lee revealed on Instagram in January that she had acquired her own camper van and was in the process of transforming it into a “new adventure mobile.”
“You were a dream beyond my wildest dreams,” Jordan wrote Tuesday, March 30 on Instagram. “You stuffed my heart to the brim and pushed it further than I ever imagined possible. You were my soulmate, my companion, and my best friend. Every day with you was an adventure, and I hope you’ve found peace and snuggles wherever you are. Take a deep breath, puppy. I adore you more than you can comprehend.”
“It was [red heart emoji] always you,” he wrote. “You were the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me. You were the most incredible person I’ve ever met. I fell in love with you the moment we met, but you were the stronger one who first said ‘I love you.’ I hope you’re aware that I’ve never stopped loving you, Mountie. I will always be grateful for the time I spent with you in this world and hope beyond hope to see you again in the next. “Reserve a few miniature eggs for me.”
The memorial post on Lee’s page included a message to her fans about the importance of mental health awareness. “If there is one thing we can do for Lee now, in the midst of this soul-crushing loss, it is to spread the message that mental health is just as real as physical health, and that illness can strike anyone, regardless of how improbable it may appear.” It’s acceptable to be uncomfortable, it’s acceptable to seek assistance, it’s absolutely necessary to seek assistance.”
“Lee was a mental health advocate,” the post continued. “She was forthright and forthright about her own struggles. She was receiving assistance from professionals, family members, and friends. She was surrounded by supporters. She was not alone in this, and she was not attempting to fight this battle alone. And yet she succumbed to this heinous disease. It is more nuanced than we are capable of appreciating or comprehending.”
The post concluded with a warning about the dangers of social media. “A single social media post does not capture the complexity of life. Things are perplexing. Do not believe everything you read online. Get out into the world and speak with your family and friends. Please check in. Inquire honestly about their well-being. Make yourself available to assist. To pay attention. To offer assistance. Eliminate the stigma associated with seeking assistance. Let’s raise awareness about this issue for Lee and anyone else who needs to hear it: #speakupforlee.” And keep your loved ones close. Inform them of your affection. Because life is unpredictable. We will adore her with all our hearts.”