Update: This story has been updated to remove the widespread claim that Noa Pothoven was euthanized at just 17 years old. Followup reports from the family confirmed that Pothoven died in her home but denied that doctors ended her life.
A 17-year-old Dutch girl died at her home after saying the trauma of being raped as a child made her feel she couldn’t keep living.
Noa Pothoven of Arnhem asked to be put to death because the suffering of having been molested and raped as a child was “unbearable,” a decision that does not require parental consent. However, after her family confirmed her death, no evidence corroborated the widespread reports that she had been euthanized.
Noa had battled for years with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anorexia after being molested and raped as a young girl, a topic she dealt with at length in a memoir titled Winning or Learning.
She was sexually assaulted three times as a youngster, the first two times she was molested when she attended children’s parties at the ages of 11 and 12, and the third times when she was raped by two men when she was 14.
“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.”
Noa said she hoped her book would help vulnerable youngsters in difficult situations, saying that the Netherlands lacks specialized institutions or clinics where troubled teens can go for psychological help.
The girl announced her decision to die on social media, telling her followers that her decision was not “impulsive” and requesting that no one try to persuade her not to go through with her plan.
The day before her death, Noa posted: “I breathe but I no longer live.”
“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. 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 said.
Noa asked her friends and followers on Instagram not to try to “convince me that this is not good, this is my decision and it is final.”
“Love is letting go, in this case,” she said.