Netherlands Teenager, 17, Who Was Raped As a Child, Dies: 'My Suffering Is Unbearable'

A Dutch teenager who was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and battled with anorexia after a series of sexual assaults when she was a child, has reportedly ended her own life in the Netherlands.

Noa Pothoven, 17, died at home on Sunday, having used her final days to say goodbye to family and friends, her sister confirmed, as reported by Dutch publication de Gelderlander. The exact circumstances of her death are not clear.

In a now deleted Instagram post, Pothoven explained her decision. Translated from Dutch, it read: "After years of fighting and fighting it is finished. After many conversations and assessments it was decided that I will be released because my suffering is unbearable. It's finished. I have not really been alive for so long, I survive, and not even that. I breathe but no longer live."

Pothoven had written an autobiography titled Winning or Learning that detailed her sexual assault and battles with mental illness. She wrote that she was assaulted at a school party at age 11, then again the next year at another party. She describes being raped by two men in the city of Arnhem at age 14. She had kept the assaults a secret for years and her parents only learned of them in the past year and a half.

Lisa Westerveld, a member of the Netherlands House of Representatives, visited Pothoven in the days before her death. "It was nice to see her again. It is also very unreal," the Dutch lawmaker told de Gelderlander. "Noa was incredibly strong and very open. I will never forget her. We will continue her struggle."

In mid 2018, Pothoven had sought legal euthanasia or assisted suicide from the Levenseind clinic in The Hague, but her request was rejected.

Euthanasia was legalized in the Netherlands in 2001, the same year Pothoven was born. The Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act became law in 2002.

"In the Netherlands, euthanasia is understood to mean termination of life by a doctor at the request of a patient. Euthanasia does not mean simply desisting from treatment when further intervention is pointless and allowing nature to take its course," the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote in an FAQ document on the legislation.

"The main aim of the policy is to bring matters into the open, to apply uniform criteria in assessing every case in which a doctor terminates life, and hence to ensure that maximum care is exercised in such exceptional cases."

If you have thoughts of suicide, confidential help is available for free at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 1-800-273-8255. The line is available 24 hours every day.

This article was corrected to delete references to euthanasia as a cause of Pothoven's death.