Tragic loss of local Instagram travel influencer Lee MacMillan, sparks powerful message

Family and friends want people to #speakupforlee to shine light on mental health

It’s a rallying call for those suffering from mental health issues to speak up and share their struggles following the tragic, crushing loss of 28-year-old Lee MacMillan of Barrie.

The popular social media personality and advocate for mental health was always candid and open about her own struggles.

Santa Barbara Police confirmed MacMillan was hit and killed by a train last Friday in Noleta. 

MacMillan had disappeared last week and police “expressed concern that her death was self-inflicted,” according to the Santa Barbara Independent.

“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,” read a statement on MacMillan’s Instagram page.

“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,” read the statement. “Let’s spread the awareness of this issue, for Lee and everyone else who needs to hear this: #speakupforlee. We will miss her with every fiber of our hearts.”

“You were a dream beyond my wildest dreams. 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,” said Jordan Chiu.

MacMillan spoke about her struggles in December of last year, posting a video about her suicidal thoughts and the struggles she felt by putting her own needs last.

She had spent the past few years traveling around the world with her then-boyfriend, Max Bidstrup, and their dog Occy. Their YouTube channel was a huge hit, with half a million subscribers.

MacMillan had more recently settled in Santa Barbara. 

Her friends are family are encouraging everyone to share her story and help shine a light on mental health.

“I’m at a loss for words. All I can say is that you came into my life and quickly became one of my best friends, an adventure buddy, my biggest fan, and introduced me to some of the most amazing people that you KNEW I needed to know. You wanted nothing other than for your people to be happy and fulfilled. When you walked into a room, you brought more energy than I’ve ever witnessed. But you ALSO made everyone feel heard, seen, loved, and would cheer them on like you’ve known them forever. I love you so much and I’m so sorry you had to go through what you did.”

Image from @nick.laf

“This is incredibly heartbreaking and I’m still trying to process this and what it means. All I know is that Lee would want everyone to openly discuss mental health and keep breaking down the stigma surrounding mental illness,” wrote Nick Laferriere.