At just 17 years old, Noa Pothoven of The Netherlands had already lived a traumatic life. She was molested when she was 11 and 12, and then raped by two men at the age of 14. The experiences left her battling post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anorexia. She tried to live with her pain, even writing Winning or Learning, a book that described her struggle with mental illness, but this weekend she died by euthanasia at an end of life clinic.
The Dutch legalized euthanasia in 2002 for anyone over the age of 12. Those under 16 years old need parental consent, but for anyone else, they just need to make the decision to end their life without being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and have two independent doctors agree that their suffering is unbearable and unlikely to improve.
Since she was 17, Noa went to the clinic without her parents' knowledge. She previously spoke to them about doing it, but she told The Gerderlander that they said absolutely not, explaining, "They think I'm too young to die. They think I should complete the trauma treatment and that my brain must first be fully grown. That lasts until you are 21. I'm devastated because I can't wait that long anymore."
The teen described her ultimate decision in a now-deleted post on her Instagram page that reads:
"I deliberated for quite a while whether or not I should share this, but decided to do it anyway. 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. 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. I'm still breathing, but I'm not alive any more [...] don't try convince me that this is not good, this is my decision and it is final."
While Noa did go to an end of life clinic, it is unknown if she died because of the clinic or because she refused to eat.
Her death even got the attention of Pope Francis, who weighed in on Twitter with his thoughts on euthanasia.