Father of British Snowboarder Ellie Soutter Leads Calls For Greater Mental Health Support

Maurice Richmond
By Maurice Richmond,
updated on Aug 1, 2018

Father of British Snowboarder Ellie Soutter Leads Calls For Greater Mental Health Support

The father of British snowboarder Ellie Soutter believes her mental health history and the pressured nature of elite sport contributed to her death on her 18th birthday

Tony Soutter revealed his daughter "wanted to be the best" and "not to let anybody down", as he spoke publicly for the first time since Ellie completed suicide in the French Alps on July 25th.

Mr Soutter says shis daughter had experienced a history of mental ill health, and that the pressure of competing at the highest level was starting to affect Ellie, who grew up in Surrey before moving to the Alps to focus on her training.

He told BBC South East: "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."

Ellie’s talent saw her take bronze in the Youth Olympic Winter Festival in Turkey last year, this would be the only medal Team GB would win at the games.

Her tragic death has prompted her family to set up a foundation in her name, which will aim to help young winter athletes in need of financial support. Tony has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to set up the foundation.

UK sporting bodies have each insisted they take the wellbeing of athletes seriously, and praised Ellie for being a popular member of team. A UK Sport spokesman said: "This is a desperately sad situation and our thoughts are with all of Ellie's family and friends.

"We are working with all of our Olympic and Paralympic programmes and the mental health charity Mind to make sure appropriate support is in place."

A statement issued by British Ski and Snowboard said: "Ellie was an incredibly popular and well-liked member of the team. The country has lost a great talent.

"The wellbeing of all athletes across every discipline is the primary concern of any sporting organisation. We commend the family for setting up the Ellie Soutter Foundation and they have our full support."

As the spotlight radiates on mental wellbeing in sport, professional bodies and clubs are making plans to introduce mental health initiatives. Cambridge United Football Club revealed a four-point action plan this week, in a bid to be a "mentally healthy club."

From the start of the season later this month, the club will introduce: Mental Health First Aid Training; first team and academy Mental Health Champions; expansion of its Mind Your Head School Programme and club and community mental health drop in sessions.

If you need to speak to somebody confidentially, find a mental health professional in your area by visiting Counselling Directory or for immediate support contact Samaritans.

To find out more about Cambridge United's mental health plans, visit their website.

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