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Influencer Who Travelled the World in Her Van Takes Her Own Life at 28: She Was "Fighting a Brave Battle With Depression"

Influencer Who Travelled the World in Her Van Takes Her Own Life at 28: She Was "Fighting a Brave Battle With Depression"

Lee MacMillan was an advocate for mental health and was often candid about her own struggles.

Trigger Warning: This article contains details of mental health issues and suicide that readers may find disturbing.

Social media is often a place that doesn't really show you the whole picture of someone's life. Viewers get a peek into only the high points of someone's journey. Not many share the hardships, the struggles, the pain, and heartbreaks that they go through. We often forget people are way more complex than the few pictures or videos we see of them online. So when one influencer who seemed to have a "great" life traveling the world struggled with depression and took her own life, many would wonder why. Lee MacMillan's tragic death is a reminder that mental health struggles are real and it can affect anyone.



 

The 28-year-old was hit and killed by an Amtrak train in Santa Barbara on Friday, Lt. Joshua Morton said in a press release. The statement noted that MacMillan had been missing for a while and "left her wallet, keys, ID, and cell phone at her residence. Her vehicle was also left at her residence. MacMillan suffers from depression and has been expressing suicidal ideation for the last month. MacMillan made specific statements recently which indicate she may be intending to harm herself."



 

A post on Lee's Instagram account on Monday confirmed her death was by suicide. The statement read, "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. She was the brightest light, a magnetic force of nature and was loved by so so many. 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."



 

The post goes on to say that despite Lee being someone who was vocal about her struggles, the illness sadly took over. It's a reminder that mental health issues are way more complex than we imagine. The statement continued to say, "Lee was an advocate for mental health. 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. 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." The post concluded by saying, "We will miss her with every fiber of our hearts."



 

According to PEOPLE, Lee and her ex-boyfriend Max Bidstrup had a popular YouTube channel Max & Lee where they took on adventures with their dog Occy in a travel van. The pair broke up in 2020 and started their own platforms while still supporting each other. Lee went on to launch her own channel in December titled Life with Lee that has 49,800 followers. She had updated her followers over the months that she had been focussing on mental health as well as picking up golf and cycling, and began dating Jordan Chiu. She was also building a new van to go on new adventures. "This is the very first vehicle that I own on my own," MacMillan revealed in one video. Heartbreakingly, it just goes to show, depression can strike anyone at any time. Friends and loved ones have been offering support and sharing touching messages in honor of the late influencer who has left the world way too soon.



 

A GoFundMe page has been set up in Lee's name to start a foundation "to promote mental health awareness and to combat cyberbullying."

If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is, please contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433).

References:

https://people.com/human-interest/van-life-influencer-lee-macmillan-dies-by-suicide-at-28/

https://www.gofundme.com/f/speakupforlee

Cover Image Source: Instagram/lifewithlee

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