A 17-year-old died on Sunday after receiving approval to be legally euthanized at home with the assistance of an “end-of-life clinic.” The teen felt that living had become unbearable, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after being the victim of three sexual assaults, the first of which occurred when she was just 11, and battling against both depression and anorexia.
Noa Pothoven passed away in a hospital bed that had been set up in the living room of her home in the Netherlands, according to a report by the Daily Mail. She had been granted the right to end her life legally and was helped by one of the county’s “end-of-life clinics.”
In a social media post on Saturday, Pothoven told her followers about her intentions.
“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 hospitalization, 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 continued. “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.”
Pothoven noted that she never truly felt “alive.” Instead, she was merely surviving.
“I breathe, but I no longer live,” she said.
She requested that her followers “not convince me that this is not good, this is my decision, and it is final.” She added, “Love is letting go, in this case.”
Pothoven’s mother, Lisette, said that she wasn’t aware that her daughter was troubled until she came across an envelope in her room full of farewell letters.
“I was in shock,” said Lisette. “We didn’t get it. Noa is sweet, beautiful, smart, social, and always cheerful. How is it possible that she wants to die?”
“We have never received a real answer,” she continued. “We just heard that her life was no longer meaningful. For only a year and a half have we known what secret she has carried with her over the years.”
Pothoven has previously written a book outlining the incidents that led to her post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. She discussed being assaulted at a party when she was 11, and another assault at a different party just one year later.
When she was 14, two men raped her, but she didn’t discuss the assault “out of fear and shame.”
“I relive the fear, that pain every day,” Pothoven stated last year. “Always scared, always on my guard. And to this day my body still feels dirty. My house has been broken into, my body, that can never be undone.”
Pothoven had received treatment over the years, including spending time in hospitals, institutions, and specialized care centers. When she was isolated, she asserted that she “almost [felt] like a criminal, while I haven’t so much as stolen sweets from a store in my life.”
She was even admitted to a hospital in critical condition for being severely underweight and close to organ failure. Pothoven was placed in a medically induced coma and fed artificially.
Once Pothoven turned 17, she no longer needed parental consent to pursue euthanasia.
Euthanasia was legalized in the Netherlands in 2002, though there are strict requirements for being approved to have the right to euthanize legally. Children as young as 12 can be given the ability to euthanize if they wish, but only after a doctor determines that the person’s suffering is genuinely unbearable and that a resolution to that suffering isn’t in sight.