A history of mental health issues paired with the pressure of competing at the highest level may have contributed to snowboarder Ellie Soutter’s apparent suicide, her father said Tuesday.
Soutter, a rising Olympic star in Britain, died on her 18th birthday last week, officials revealed. Though an official cause of death hasn't been confirmed, the athlete’s father told BBC South East there were several 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 said. “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 “wanted to be the best,” her father said, adding there needed to be more of a focus on athletes’ mental health.
“I have lost my best friend, my total buddy. She was my rock,” he told BBC South East.
Soutter was found dead in the woods a week after she disappeared from a ski resort in Les Gets, France, according to PEOPLE.
British Olympic Association Chairperson Hugh Robertson and BOA Athletes' Commission Chairperson Ben Hawes described Soutter as a “well-liked member” of Team GB who was “incredibly popular.”
“Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time,” a joint statement read.
Soutter won Team GB’s only medal at the 2017 European Youth Olympic Winter Festival, where she snagged bronze in the women’s snowboard cross.
"I have lost my best friend, my total buddy."
She was set to represent her country next month in the Junior World Championships in New Zealand and was tapped for a place on Team GB for the 2022 Winter Olympic in Beijing, Sky News reported.
Her family launched a GoFundMe to help young athletes get the financial aid they need to “achieve their potential and dreams.”
Fox News’ Paulina Dedaj contributed to this report.