Update: This story has been updated after a Politico Europe reporter disputed widespread claims that Noa Pothoven died from legal euthanasia. A previous version reported she had died through assisted suicide, but it is unclear what involvement — if any — medical professionals had in the girl's death.
A 17-year-old from the Netherlands died over the weekend after pleading for assisted suicide due to her past sexual abuse and subsequent battles with mental health.
What are the details?
Noa Pothoven died Sunday in her living room after refusing to eat or drink for several days, while her parents and doctors agreed not to intervene in her suicide. Pothoven, who penned an award-winning autobiography about her struggles ahead of her passing, titled, "Winning or Learning," defended her decision on Instagram leading up to her death.
The teenager told her followers, "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," according to a translation provided by the Daily Mail.
She then asked her audience not to try to talk her out of killing herself, adding "Love is letting go, in this case." Her Instagram account was later made private.
According to the Sun, Pothoven was molested at two separate children's parties when she was 11 and 12, and then raped by two men when she was 14. She reported the attacks to police last year. Pothoven said her mother had "always been there for her," but put in her request for euthanasia in 2018 without her parents' knowledge, Sky News reported.
The euthanasia clinic she reportedly consulted was Levenseindkliniek in The Hague. A spokeswoman for the clinic would not confirm or deny whether Pothoven was ever a patient, telling DutchNews, "We cannot say anything about it," but explained, "There are very few young adults in euthanasia clinics, and it's even rarer to see them for psychiatric reasons."
The spokeswoman added, "But we follow the law, which says someone must be in unbearable suffering with no other alternative."
Pothoven's mother, Lisette, told De Gelderlander in 2018 that she and the girl's father hoped their daughter's symptoms could be treated, telling the outlet, "We, her parents, want her to choose the path of life. Noa really doesn't want to die at all. She only longs for peace."
In the Netherlands, children as young as 12 may be euthanized at their request if a physician deems their suffering to be "unbearable with no clear resolution in sight," according to the Sun.
But that does not appear to be what happened to Pothoven. Despite earlier reports that the teen died from assisted suicide, a spokesperson for a Dutch lawmaker who visited Pothoven in her last days told DutchNews, "as far as we know, she died because she didn't eat anymore."
News of Pothoven's death stirred up longstanding ethical questions over when patients should have the right to die in states where euthanasia is allowed.
"Inside Edition" reported that more than 6,500 people died through legal euthanasia in the Netherlands in 2017. The controversial practice is also allowed under certain circumstance in Belgium, Canada, Switzerland, and several states in the U.S.
According to a recent column in the Calgary Herald, the rules restricting assisted suicide have loosened over the four years since Canada has legalized the procedure. Calling the trend a "slippery slope," akin to a "vertical skating rink," Licia Corbella wrote last month that proponents in that country are "urging that physicians should be allowed to kill depressed or lonely patients, including mature minors and sick children."