Ellie Soutter, an Olympic snowboarder for the United Kingdom who died July 25 at the age of 18, took her own life after missing a flight to a training event, her family stated.
She was found dead on her 18th birthday last week in Les Gets, France. Her official cause of death has not yet been revealed, but her father told the BBC that there were factors that contributed to her “ending her life.”
“Unfortunately it all came about from missing a flight which then meant she didn’t go training with the [Great Britain] squad,” Tony Soutter told the broadcaster. “She felt she’d let them down, felt she’d let me down, and just tragically it just takes one silly little thing like that to tip someone over the edge, because there’s a lot of pressure on children.”
Ellie Soutter, he added, “wanted to be the best” in her sport. But he added that there needs to be more of a focus on the mental health of athletes.
“I have lost my best friend, my total buddy. She was my rock,” he told the BBC.
‘Incredibly Popular and Well-Liked’
He said she moved to the French Alps to train. She grew up in Oxted, Surrey, before the move.
“Ellie was an incredibly popular and well-liked member of the team and the country has lost a great talent,” British Ski and Snowboard said in a statement. “The wellbeing of all athletes across every discipline is the primary concern of any sporting organization. We commend the family for setting up the Ellie Soutter Foundation and they have our full support.”
Soutter claimed her country’s only medal at the European Youth Olympic Winter Festival during competitions in Turkey last year, officials said.
“Ellie was an incredibly popular and well-liked member of the team,” said BOA Chair Hugh Robertson and BOA Athlete Commission Chair Ben Hawes in a statement. “Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time.”
On Facebook, Tony Soutter lamented her death. “I was so proud of the beautiful young woman she had turned into,” he wrote. “Ellie I will miss you more than you could have ever imagined. Rest in peace you little Champion!”
If you’re in an emergency in the United States or Canada, please call 911. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255. Young people can call the Kids Help Phone on 1-800-668-6868.