Ellie Soutter may have only been 18 years old, but she was known as Great Britain’s most up and coming elite snowboarder.
According to the Metro, Soutter, who was already competing as a member of Team GB, was expected to lead her country in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
The British Olympic Association is saddened to hear of the sudden passing of snowboard cross athlete Ellie Soutter, aged 18.
— Team GB (@TeamGB) July 26, 2018
But on July 25, just one day after her 18th birthday, Soutter was found dead in a remote area near her home in the French Alps.
Her father, Tony Soutter, has since confirmed that his daughter’s unexpected passing was the result of suicide. He wrote on Facebook:
This cruel world took my Soul mate and “Bessie” from me yesterday on her 18th birthday. I was so proud of the beautiful young woman she had turned into. Ellie I will miss you more than you could have ever imagined. Rest in peace you little Champion!
Tony later told BBC that the 18-year-old struggled with mental illness in the past and also the stresses that came with being an elite athlete.
Tony said that Soutter “wanted to be the best” and “didn’t want to let anybody down”:
“Unfortunately it all came about from missing a flight which then meant she didn’t go training with the GB squad. 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.”
“Mental health awareness needs to be really looked at and made more public.”
According to Kids Health, suicide is the third leading cause of death amongst individuals between the ages of 15 to 24. Suicide among teens often happens after a stressful life event.
Being a teenager can also be a “period of stress and worry. There’s pressure to fit in socially, to perform academically, and to act responsibly.”
Other factors that can increase the risk of suicide among teens include:
- A psychological disorder, especially depression, bipolar disorder, and alcohol and drug use (in fact, about 95 percent of people who die by suicide have a psychological disorder at the time of death)
- Feelings of distress, irritability, or agitation
- Feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness that often accompany depression
- a previous suicide attempt
- A family history of depression or suicide
- Emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
- Lack of a support network, poor relationships with parents or peers, and feelings of social isolation
- Dealing with bisexuality or homosexuality in an unsupportive family or community or hostile school environment
The British Ski and Snowboarding team released this statement following Soutter’s sudden passing:
Ellie was one of the country’s best up-and-coming snowboarders, competing in both snowboard cross and freeride.
A bronze medallist in snowboard cross at the 2017 European Youth Olympic Winter Festival in Erzurum, Turkey, Ellie claimed Team GB’s only medal of the event.
She spent the 2017/18 season competing on the Freeride Junior Tour, but was due to return to snowboard cross competition next month after being selected in the British team for the Junior World Championships in New Zealand. She was an inaugural member of the British Europa Cup snowboard cross programme which commenced earlier this year.
The thoughts and condolences of the British Ski & Snowboard community are with Ellie’s family, friends and teammates.
If you or someone you know is struggle with mental illness or thoughts of suicide, please call that National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.