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Monday September 24, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

The father of GB snowboarder Ellie Soutter, who killed herself on her 18th birthday, believes head injuries may have contributed to her suicide.

Tony Soutter says he now thinks his daughter suffered from a brain disease caused by repetitive head trauma from snowboarding injuries.

The symptoms include sleep deprivation and severe depression.

He was speaking to The Sunday Times at the home in Les Gets in France, where he had lived with his only child.

Ellie Soutter, a rising star in snowboard cross and freeride and a bronze medallist at the 2017 European Youth Winter Olympics, was found dead in woods near her home on 25th July.


Ellie SoutterEllie Soutter - photo Team GB















In the days after her suicide Tony Soutter told the BBC that mental health issues and the pressure of elite sport may have contributed to her death.

He said that missing a GB training camp may have tipped her over the edge.

He has now told The Sunday Times that a series of head injuries she suffered while snowboarding is likely to have affected her state of mind.

A few weeks after Ellie's death he got an email from researchers at the University of Boston who were looking into a possible link between chronic traumatic encephalopathy - a disease caused by repetitive head trauma - and suicide.

Ellie and Tony SoutterEllie and dad Tony - photo Tony Soutter Facebook














Tony Soutter told the newspaper that Ellie had been airlifted off the mountain about five times, each time with a head injury.

"In April, she had the worst concussion of her life, where she still didn't recognise me seven hours after the accident," he said.

"She had a lot of nasty headaches after that, and trouble sleeping."

He said the researchers had asked for a biopsy of Ellie's brain as the disease can be diagnosed only after death, but the request had arrived after her funeral had taken place.

Tony Soutter told The Sunday Times that Ellie was also affected by a break-up with her boyfriend and concern about finding the money to train and compete.

A few days after her death he set up a foundation to raise money for young winter athletes who need financial help.

It's so far raised more than €21,000.

You can contribute on this GoFundMe page.

Ellie SoutterEllie Soutter














The Sunday Times article includes lengthy and moving interviews with both Tony Soutter and Ellie's mum, Lorraine Denman.

It's behind a paywall, though you can register by email to read two articles a week free of charge.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

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