‘My suffering is unbearable’: Dutch teenage rape survivor ends life with legal euthanasia

Written by on June 6, 2019

Amsterdam – A 17-year-old girl from the Netherlands, a survivor of sexual abuse, has ended her life in a state-approved euthanasia program after a years-long struggle with depression and mental illness.

Noa Pothoven took her own life in her home in Arnhem on Sunday, with the aid of an end of life clinic. Suicide is legal in the country under the Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide Act of 2001, but requires the approval of a physician, who must conclude the patient’s anguish is insufferable.

The day before her death, Pothoven shared her decision with more than 10,000 followers on Instagram.

“Within a maximum of 10 days I will die,” she wrote. “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.”

Pothoven blogged about mental health issues and wrote about her battle with depression in a prize-winning autobiography, ‘Winning and Learning.’ In the book, the teen also detailed experiences with sexual abuse and rape, which she said she concealed for years out of shame.

Though euthanasia remains highly controversial, each year a greater number of people go through with the procedure. According to the most recent data, in 2017 there were over 6,500 assisted suicides in the Netherlands, an 8 percent increase from the previous year. Euthanasia is also legal in Canada and Belgium.


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