17 Year Old Noa Pothoven was sexually assaulted multiple times, first when she was 11, then later raped at the age of 14. She had been struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, rape and anorexia ever since.
Noa ended her life on Sunday through the Netherlands legal euthanasia system.
She talked about her decision to end her life on social media last week:
“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 hospitalisation, 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.”
Noa approached the euthanasia clinic without her parent’s knowledge, they later found out of her plans only through letters she had written to her family in preparation for when she ended her life.
Children as young as 12 can legally be granted euthanasia in the Netherlands following assessment by a doctor who concludes that death is the only option.
4.4% of all registered deaths in the Netherlands in 2017 were due to assisted suicide, with a total of 6,585 cases.
People have mixed views on whether such services should be available, especially to children. Was Noa old enough to make such a terminal decision, this is a hard question to answer. Though some would argue that if such services were not available then maybe things could of turned out very different for Noa in the future, or not.
The bigger concern here though is the fact that we live in a society where a child feels the only option to them is to end their life, society has been unable to offer them anything worth living for. All society could offer in the end, was assisted suicide.
Suicide in the young isn’t just exclusive to the Netherlands, in fact in the UK where suicide is illegal, a total of 1,600 people under the age of 35 kill themselves every year, with a total suicide rate of between 6000 – 7000 every year – not dissimilar to the rate in the Netherlands where it is legal.
What does this tell us about the society that has been manufactured for us, for our children.