On June 2, 2019, a 17-year-old girl named Noa Pothoven starved herself to death. She had endured a long battle with mental illness resulting from multiple rapes at ages 11 and 14. It was her second attempt to end her life by starvation. Last year, medical personnel placed her in a medically induced coma and used a feeding tube to keep her alive. This time her parents respected her wishes and allowed her to die. This case brings up many issues about mental illness and teen euthanasia.
This incident took place in the Netherlands where assisted suicide is legal for troubled children as young as 12 “providing there is strong medical evidence that psychiatric conditions have made their lives ‘unbearable.’” It is wrong to assume that any human can get to a mental state that is 100% hopeless and that they cannot be helped by any treatment. Ms. Pothoven was very vocal about her pain and frustration. She wrote an autobiography titled Winning or Learning (Winnen of Leren in Dutch) to describe her anguish. She had 10,000 Instagram followers and shortly before her death she told them,“After years of fighting and fighting it is finished.”
There were numerous mistakes in the way people handled this young woman’s case. At age 11, she was raped at a school party where there should have been adult supervision. She was raped again by two men at a teen party at age 14. She was ashamed to tell her parents about the rapes, and she never reported them to the police. The trauma from those rapes resulted in periods of being housed in group homes and mental hospitals. She was turned away by a Dutch euthanasia clinic and she was on a waiting list for radical treatments such as shock therapy. Finally with the cooperation of her parents, she refused all food and drink and passed away at home.
By applying Christian love and principles of caring, people can be helped, even with conditions like this young woman. If Christian love and caring had been applied from the beginning, she would not have gotten into that condition. Human life is precious and sacred, and even severe conditions of physical or mental illness do not change that fact. Mental illness and teen euthanasia are serious matters and we hope that she does not set an example for her 10,000 Instagram followers.
— John N. Clayton and Roland Earnst © 2019
Reference: There are numerous reports of this incident on the internet. Just search for Noa Pothoven.