Family of Instagram ‘vanlifer’ Lee Macmillan reveal she was cyberbullied before taking her own life

The family of a beloved Instagram star who documented her vanlife travels have revealed she was relentlessly cyberbullied and battled depression before tragically taking her own life.

Canadian Lee Macmillan became an online sensation after globetrotting in a van across the world and Australia, but on Friday lost her mental health battle. 

Despite amassing a loyal following of more than 70,000, Ms Macmillan’s father Wil told Daily Mail Australia the 27-year-old had been the victim of cruel internet trolls.

‘Unfortunately, Lee was subjected to significant trolling and it impacted her deeply… our collective help simply wasn’t enough to overcome the negativity that Trolls inflict,’ he said.

The Macmillan family hope her death can bring to light the devastating impacts cyberbullying can have on mental health.

‘We need and must raise awareness that mental health is as real as any other serious illness. In addition, and as important, we want to highlight the best way to fight against cyber bullying and bullying in general,’ Mr Macmillan said.

Ms Macmillan's boyfriend Jordan Chiu wrote a heartbreaking tribute to his partner, describing her as 'the brightest light' and a 'magnetic force of nature' who was loved by many

Ms Macmillan's boyfriend Jordan Chiu wrote a heartbreaking tribute to his partner, describing her as 'the brightest light' and a 'magnetic force of nature' who was loved by many

Ms Macmillan’s boyfriend Jordan Chiu wrote a heartbreaking tribute to his partner, describing her as ‘the brightest light’ and a ‘magnetic force of nature’ who was loved by many

They purchased a 2006 Dodge Sprinter van for about $12,300, which they gutted and renovated for their road trips

They purchased a 2006 Dodge Sprinter van for about $12,300, which they gutted and renovated for their road trips

They purchased a 2006 Dodge Sprinter van for about $12,300, which they gutted and renovated for their road trips

The Macmillan family hopes the globetrotter's death can bring to light the devastating impacts cyberbullying can have on mental health

The Macmillan family hopes the globetrotter's death can bring to light the devastating impacts cyberbullying can have on mental health

The Macmillan family hopes the globetrotter’s death can bring to light the devastating impacts cyberbullying can have on mental health

‘Online bullying is out of control worldwide and must be stopped. Those that engage in trolling must understand that there are real life consequences to their actions and we need to figure out a way to hold them and the platforms that allow it to be held accountable.’

Ms Macmillan’s boyfriend Jordan Chiu wrote a heartbreaking tribute to his partner, describing her as ‘the brightest light’ and a ‘magnetic force of nature’ who was loved by many. 

‘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,’ he said.

‘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.’

Mr Chiu said his partner lived an ‘extraordinary life’ and said he will miss her with ‘every fibre’ of his heart.     

‘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. She was candid and open about her own struggles.’   

Despite amassing a loyal following of more than 70,000, Ms Macmillan's father Wil said the 27-year-old had been the victim of cruel internet trolls

Despite amassing a loyal following of more than 70,000, Ms Macmillan's father Wil said the 27-year-old had been the victim of cruel internet trolls

Despite amassing a loyal following of more than 70,000, Ms Macmillan’s father Wil said the 27-year-old had been the victim of cruel internet trolls

Mr Chiu said his partner lived an 'extraordinary life' and said he will miss her with 'every fibre' of his heart

Mr Chiu said his partner lived an 'extraordinary life' and said he will miss her with 'every fibre' of his heart

Mr Chiu said his partner lived an ‘extraordinary life’ and said he will miss her with ‘every fibre’ of his heart

Mr Chiu has since started the '#speakupforlee' hashtag, to raise awareness for mental illness and the importance of checking in on your friends

Mr Chiu has since started the '#speakupforlee' hashtag, to raise awareness for mental illness and the importance of checking in on your friends

Mr Chiu has since started the ‘#speakupforlee’ hashtag, to raise awareness for mental illness and the importance of checking in on your friends

The Macmillan family hopes the globetrotter's death can bring to light the devastating impacts cyberbullying can have on mental health

The Macmillan family hopes the globetrotter's death can bring to light the devastating impacts cyberbullying can have on mental health

The Macmillan family hopes the globetrotter’s death can bring to light the devastating impacts cyberbullying can have on mental health

Mr Chiu said Ms Macmillan had been receiving help from professionals, family and friends for her depression. 

‘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,’ he said. 

Mr Chiu has since started the ‘#speakupforlee’ hashtag, to raise awareness for mental illness and the importance of checking in on your friends. 

‘Let’s spread the awareness of this issue, for Lee and every one else who needs to hear this. And hold your loved ones tight. Tell them you love them. Because life can change in an instant,’ he wrote.  

‘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.’ 

The pair's @maxandlee_ Instagram page, which has garnered more than 67,000 devoted followers, revealed the devastating news on Wednesday

The pair's @maxandlee_ Instagram page, which has garnered more than 67,000 devoted followers, revealed the devastating news on Wednesday

The pair’s @maxandlee_ Instagram page, which has garnered more than 67,000 devoted followers, revealed the devastating news on Wednesday

Mr Chiu said Ms Macmillan had been receiving help from professionals, family and friends for her depression

Mr Chiu said Ms Macmillan had been receiving help from professionals, family and friends for her depression

Mr Chiu said Ms Macmillan had been receiving help from professionals, family and friends for her depression 

Ms Macmillan amassed an Instagram following of more than 70,000 by documenting her travels with then-boyfriend Max Bidstrup and their Australian Shepherd Occy on their joint Instagram @maxandlee_

Ms Macmillan amassed an Instagram following of more than 70,000 by documenting her travels with then-boyfriend Max Bidstrup and their Australian Shepherd Occy on their joint Instagram @maxandlee_

Ms Macmillan amassed an Instagram following of more than 70,000 by documenting her travels with then-boyfriend Max Bidstrup and their Australian Shepherd Occy on their joint Instagram @maxandlee_ 

Ms Macmillan amassed an Instagram following of more than 70,000 by documenting her travels with then-boyfriend Max Bidstrup and their Australian Shepherd Occy on their joint Instagram @maxandlee_.

Ms Macmillan met Mr Bidstrup while he was on a working holiday in Canada in 2016 and they decided to travel across the world with each other.

They spent two years travelling across 16 countries, before eventually shocking fans by breaking up in January last year.

The couple – who broke up in late 2019 -shared the highs and lows of travelling around Canada, South East Asia, South America and North America  – including the time Occy was attacked on a beach in Costa Rica. 

They also shared the moment they surprised Mr Bidstrup’s brother who had just had a baby by returning to Australia from Canada after more than two years away.   

The couple spent their time travelling to untouched areas, away from the crowds of tourists. 

The couple met while Mr Bidstrup was on a working holiday in Canada in 2016 and they decided to travel across the world with each other and their Australian Shepherd Occy in a van they renovated

The couple met while Mr Bidstrup was on a working holiday in Canada in 2016 and they decided to travel across the world with each other and their Australian Shepherd Occy in a van they renovated

The couple met while Mr Bidstrup was on a working holiday in Canada in 2016 and they decided to travel across the world with each other and their Australian Shepherd Occy in a van they renovated 

Pictured: A map showing the many countries and territories the couple travelled to together

Pictured: A map showing the many countries and territories the couple travelled to together

Pictured: A map showing the many countries and territories the couple travelled to together

They drove 80,000 kms to travel across the Lagunas route, which took them up to an elevation of 16,400ft as they crossed the 400km of barren landscape through the Andes mountains from Bolivia to Chile. 

Before buying the van and renovating it, the couple spent time travelling around South Australia where they went cave diving with great white sharks before bathing elephants in Thailand.   

Ms Macmillan and Mr Bidstrup – a paramedic from Wangaratta in Victoria – met while he was on a working holiday in Canada in 2016. 

The loved up couple then spent five weeks travelling around southeast Asia together before returning to Canada.

They purchased a 2006 Dodge Sprinter van for about $12,300, which they gutted and renovated for their road trips. 

The pair spent the next few months exploring North America and eventually made their way through to Hawaii and South America where they visited countries such as Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Colombia.

During their time in the US, they spent time visiting the Havasu Canyon in Arizona before travelling to San Diego where they stopped for a week to recover from travelling over 15,000km in their van in the first three months.

Ms Macmillan and Mr Bidstrup also spent almost six months in Mexico where they took Spanish lessons together and spent Christmas on a beach.

They also worked with a local charity to help sea turtles reach the ocean to give them a chance of survival. 

The couple launched their Youtube channel while in Oaxaca, Mexico and garnered a huge following.  

They then went on to travel to Guatemala – and they were there at the time the Fuego Volcano erupted in June 2018. The couple had been pictured on the volcano four days before the eruption – but told worried followers they were safe.  

Mr Bidstrup went to visit the villages which were close to the eruption and the couple donated medical supplies and money to those affected.

Ms Macmallan spent three months back in Canada with her family but joined her partner in Costa Rica. 

Whilst she was away Mr Bidstrup had visited Guatemala. The couple, once reunited, posted on Instagram that they felt ‘finally complete again’.

The couple moved on to visit Panama before organising for their van to be shipped to Colombia. 

The couple - who broke up in late 2019 -shared the highs and lows of travelling around Canada, South East Asia, South America and North America - including the time Occy was attacked on a beach in Costa Rica

The couple - who broke up in late 2019 -shared the highs and lows of travelling around Canada, South East Asia, South America and North America - including the time Occy was attacked on a beach in Costa Rica

The couple – who broke up in late 2019 -shared the highs and lows of travelling around Canada, South East Asia, South America and North America – including the time Occy was attacked on a beach in Costa Rica 

Ms Macmillan and Mr Bidstrup - a paramedic from Wangaratta in Victoria - met while he was on a working holiday in Canada

Ms Macmillan and Mr Bidstrup - a paramedic from Wangaratta in Victoria - met while he was on a working holiday in Canada

Ms Macmillan and Mr Bidstrup – a paramedic from Wangaratta in Victoria – met while he was on a working holiday in Canada

On their first day in the South American country, they hiked the giant rock monolith del Penol and ended up sleeping next to Pablo Escobar’s abandoned mansion in Guatape, Colombia.  

For Christmas 2018, the couple decided to travel back to Canada to spend time with friends and family before going on to Australia to surprise Mr Bidstrup’s family after more than two years away. 

The couple went back to their van life in Colombia before travelling to Ecuador where they surfed in crystal clear waters and volunteered at an organic farm. 

Ms Macmillan was pictured laying next to a group of sea lions after the couple travelled for a five-day cruise to the Galapagos Islands where they explored the diverse landscape.

The couple moved on to Peru and explored the Peruvian desert with an outdoor truck – and even their dog Occy joined in by wearing large goggles to keep the dust away from his eyes. 

They began the 65km Salkantay Trek to Machu Pichu and posted on Instagram saying that it was one of those ‘experiences in life you will just never forget’.

Whilst in Bolivia, the pair travelled on bikes on the famous Death Road in La Paz with Occy right behind them in a biker’s van and hiked up Mount Huayna Potosi.

They also made it to the stunning Patagonia in Chile where they were surrounded by glacial lakes and snow capped jagged peaks. 

Whilst in Bolivia, the pair travelled on bikes on the famous Death Road in La Paz with Occy right behind them in a biker's van and hiked up Mount Huayna Potosi

Whilst in Bolivia, the pair travelled on bikes on the famous Death Road in La Paz with Occy right behind them in a biker's van and hiked up Mount Huayna Potosi

Whilst in Bolivia, the pair travelled on bikes on the famous Death Road in La Paz with Occy right behind them in a biker’s van and hiked up Mount Huayna Potosi 

It was here that Ms Macmillan posted about her mental health and said in an Instagram post: ‘I have been struggling with my own insecurities and uncertainties and it has been causing my feelings of anxiety and depression.’

She added: ‘The reason why I want to be open with you on this platform is because there has been so many times where I have compared myself online asking why everyone else’s life looks so easy and or ‘perfect’ and I am here struggling.’ 

Whilst in Chile, the couple announced they would be ending their travels after two years to be closer to family and friends – and to have basic comforts they were living without.

In January last year, the couple announced their split to their joint Instagram account, shocking their hordes of loyal followers and fans. 

‘Sadly though, despite going through so much together, and trying so damn hard, some things don’t always work out, no matter how much you want them to,’ they wrote alongside a photo of them.

‘We are very sorry to announce that the next chapter of our lives will not be one experienced together, as we will be going our separate ways from here.

‘The last month has been one of the most trying of our lives as we come to terms with this new reality. We both want what is best for each other and will continue to support each other now and in to the future.’

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636

Link hienalouca.com

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