The day before she died, the Netherlands teen revealed on Instagram her decision to die: "Love is letting go, in this case."

By Ian Horswill


Posted on June 5, 2019

WARNING: THIS STORY MAY UPSET SOME READERS

Noa Pothoven, who was sexually assaulted and raped as a young child, has been legally euthanised at her home after medical experts agreed her suffering had become “unbearable”.

The 17-year-old, died in an “end-of-life clinic” bed in her living room in the Netherlands after battling mental health problems for years, The Independent reported.

The teenager, from Arnhem, was granted the right to end her own life after sexual assaults and rapes as a young girl led her to develop post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anorexia.

She was attacked three times as a youngster, the first two being when she went to children’s parties at age 11 and 12. She was then raped by two men when she was 14 in the Elderveld neighbourhood of the city.

Pothoven never revealed the horrific abuse because she felt ashamed, until last year when she reported the attacks to police saying she hoped the men who raped her will one day be arrested.

She told the Gelderlander in December last year that she initially contacted the Life End Clinic in The Hague without telling her loved ones.

“Out of fear and shame, I relive the fear, that pain every day. Always scared, always on my guard. And to this day my body still feels dirty,” she said.

“My house has been broken into, my body, that can never be undone.”

The day before she died, she posted a message on Instagram revealing her decision to die.

“I deliberated for quite a while whether or not I should share this, but decided to do it anyway,” she wrote. “Maybe this comes as a surprise to some, given my posts about hospitalisation, but my plan has been there for a long time and is not impulsive.

“I will get straight to the point: within a maximum of 10 days I will die.”

She explained that she made the difficult decision after “battling” mental anguish for most of her life.

“After years of battling and fighting, I am drained. I have quit eating and drinking for a while now, and after many discussions and evaluations, it was decided to let me go because my suffering is unbearable.”

She added that while she was “alive” she felt as if she was merely surviving, writing: “I breathe, but I no longer live.”

She asked her friends to “not convince me that this is not good, this is my decision and it is final.

“Love is letting go, in this case.”

Noa Pothoven’s mother Lisette had a say on her daughter’s decision.

Noa had penned an award-winning autobiography called Winning or Learning which detailed her struggles with mental health including suicide attempts.

She said she wanted the book to help vulnerable children in Holland as the country does have specialised clinics where young people can be treated for psychological or physical trauma.

Last year, she revealed that been admitted to hospital in a critical condition after her anorexia had left her organs on the brink of failure. Doctors placed her into a medically induced coma to feed her through tubes. She had been admitted to three youth care facilities in recent years in repeated efforts to treat her anorexia and depression.

Dutch minister Lisa Westerveld, who first made contact with Noa Pothoven in December after her newspaper interview, visited 17-year-old Noa Pothoven before she was euthanised.

“It was nice to see her again. It is also very unreal. Noa was incredibly strong and very open. I will never forget her. We will continue her struggle,” she said.

According to Dutch law, euthanasia is legal as long as it’s performed in accordance with the strict standards described in the ‘Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act’ 2002. Children as young as 12 can be euthanised in the Netherlands – but only after a doctor agrees that their suffering is unbearable with no clear resolution in sight.

Euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Colombia and in the US states of Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Hawaii, Vermont, Montana, Washington DC, and California. It will also be legal in New Jersey from August 1. The Victorian government in Australia has passed a law advocating euthanasia, but it is yet to come into effect.

If you are experiencing mental health issues or suicidal feelings, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or BeyondBlue on 1300 224 636. If it is an emergency, please call 000.

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