CORRECTION: This article was originally published containing false or misleading information. It was originally reported Noa Pothoven, a 17-year-old woman from the Netherlands had died by euthanasia. This is not true. A mistranslation from the original Dutch story led to an assumption of euthanasia. Noa’s request for assisted death was refused. At the start of June she began to refuse all fluids and foods. Her parents and doctors agreed not to force feed her.
A 17-year-old woman chose to end her life after sharing her story about being sexually abused as a child.
Noa Pothoven, from Arnhem in the Netherlands, died in her living room on Sunday (June 2).
The teenager had suffered with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anorexia after being molested and raped at a young age; experiences she wrote about in an autobiography titled Winning or Learning.
Noa said the Netherlands does not have specialised institutions or clinics where teenagers can go for psychological or physical aid, and hoped her book would help vulnerable young people who struggle with life.
Last week, the 17-year-old took to social media to share her decision about ending her life, where she explained it was something she’d thought about for a long time.
She wrote (translated):
I get straight to the point: within a maximum of 10 days I will die. After years of fighting and fighting it is finished. I have now stopped eating and drinking for a while, and after many conversations and reviews it has been decided that I will be released because my suffering is unbearable.
It’s finished. I have not really been alive for so long, I survive, and not even that. I am still breathing but I am no longer alive.
I am well cared for, I get strong pain relief and am with my family all day (I am in a hospital bed in the living room). I’m saying goodbye to the most important people in my life.
The caption continued:
If I do not approach you myself then it will no longer be possible to say goodbye, I am very weak so limit this to the most important people. I hereby also ask if you do not want to spam me with pleas or this is possible, I can no longer handle this.
It’s fine this way. Do not convince me that this is not good, this is my decision and it is final. Love is letting go, in this case…
Thanks for your support always. It’s fine this way. It will be posted here in a while when I die, so that will become clear.
In the Netherlands, euthanasia is legal as long as it is performed in accordance with the standards described in the Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act which was passed by the Dutch parliament in 2001.
After previous attempts to take her own life, her family sought electroshock therapy which was refused by authorities. The decision was made to move her to palliative care.
It’s devastating Noa’s experiences left her unable to carry on with life. Her story is certainly a sign that teenagers should have access to better psychological and physical aid, in the Netherlands and the rest of the world.
If you’re experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is there to support you. They’re open from 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. Their national number is 0800 58 58 58, and they also have a webchat service if you’re not comfortable talking on the phone.
Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.