Noa Pothoven, 17-year-old who sought euthanasia, dies at home after battle with depression, anorexia

Note: This article has been updated to accurately reflect details of Pothoven's euthanasia request.

A 17-year-old Dutch girl who sought euthanasia but was rejected by the government was allowed to die at home on Sunday after a years-long battle with depression and anorexia.

Noa Pothoven, of Arnhem in the Netherlands, explained the choice to end her own life by starvation in a now-private Instagram post last week, saying the trauma she struggled to live with following a childhood rape had become insufferable.

"After years of fighting and battling, I am drained," she wrote. "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."

The teen, who published an autobiography in 2018 called Winning or Learning detailing her struggles with PTSD, depression, anorexia and self-harm, also asked her followers to not try to talk her out of her decision, adding that it was "final" and "not impulsive."

"Love is letting go, in this case," she ended her post. 

Noa's sister, Isa Pothoven, took to Instagram following the teen's assisted suicide to share a moving tribute, remembering her loved one as a "sweet, beautiful and caring person."

"Sleep well sweetheart, we will miss you," she wrote in a now-deleted post. "Close your eyes and think of the beautiful place where you will go. We will have to let you go."

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Although the Dutch state agreed to not intervene in Pothoven's starvation death, it did not take any action to bring about her death that would meet the definition of "euthanasia," Business Insider reports.

Pothoven's formal request for legal euthanasia was denied in December 2018, when she was 16 after a clinic told her she was too young. 

Dutch law allows euthanasia as long as it is performed in accordance with the stringent terms of the controversial "Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act," which became law in 2002.

The code states that doctors may honor a patient's appeal for euthanasia provided that the request is voluntary and well-considered, and the person's suffering has been deemed unbearable with no prospect of improvement.

Doctors must also inform the patient of his or her situation and further prognosis, and the two must come to the joint conclusion that there is no other reasonable solution. At least one other physician with no connection to the case must then see the patient and state, in writing, that the attending physician satisfied the due care criteria outlined by the code.

Children as young as 12 can seek euthanasia in the Netherlands, although patients younger than 16 years old need parental consent to do so. 

In 2017, the country saw a reported 6,585 deaths by legal euthanasia.

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