THE mum of a Brit snowboarder who killed herself on her 18th birthday sobbed as she relived the moment she was told “she’s dead”.
Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics hopeful Ellie Soutter was found after a desperate search through French woodlands near her home in July last year.
And mum Lorraine Denman said alarm bells immediately started to ring when she tried to call her daughter for her birthday but couldn’t get hold of her.
Speaking to the BBC, the veterinary nurse from Hove said Ellie’s dad Tony had been the one to break the devastating news.
She said: “I just said to him: ‘Have you seen Ellie? Have you heard from her?’ He said: ‘We’ve found her.’
“For a split second, I thought she was alive. And then he said: ‘She’s dead’. He said: ‘Lorraine, she’s dead.’
“I got out of bed and I just fell to the floor. Someone might as well have just taken my heart out.”
Speaking out on World Mental Health Day, Lorraine said while her daughter was extremely strong and driven, she was also a “worrier”.
Ellie’s family had previously revealed how they feared the teen missing a flight to training may have caused her to struggle.
Dad Tony 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, who had lived with her father in France since 2009, had recently been selected to represent Team GB at the Junior Snowboard World Championships in New Zealand.
I got out of bed and I just fell to the floor. Someone might as well have just taken my heart out
Aged just 16, Ellie claimed Team GB’s only medal at the European Youth Olympic Winter Festival in Erzurum, Turkey, in 2017 by bringing home a bronze.
She had also been tipped to represent her country at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
And Lorraine – who has since had a tattoo of her daughter – said she wanted others to understand the importance of supporting young people and speaking up.
She said: “Have I wanted to give up? Quite frankly, yes. What is the point in living without her anymore? But equally, she is me and I am her.”
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Ellie moved to Les Gets in 2009, and was home schooled in her final two years of education due to her sporting commitments.
British Ski & Snowboard issued an emotional statement describing Ellie as among the “best” young boarders in the UK.
Her family has since launched a foundation to help young Brits who need financial support to become winter sports athletes like her.
- IF you are having suicidal thoughts, suffering from anxiety or depression or just want to talk, call The Samaritans on 116 123.