Her name was Noa Pothoven, she was 17 and her story comes from  the Netherlands. She died last Sunday in the living room of her home in Arnhem, with the support of the doctors of a clinic and with her mother next to her. She chose to leave this world through euthanasia.

Noa had been raped when she was just a child and from that moment, as she herself wrote, she had breathed but never lived. Anorexia, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, had accompanied her day and night during these years.


The story of Noa has shook the world. With her eyes she tried to catch the light even when she didn’t see it in her life. On Facebook she wrote that difficult moments can always be on the doorstep, and that it didn’t matter how hard they were, because you have to go on… Come on, go and get up again, so take courage….

But then Noa at some point, perhaps last year, realised that going ahead was like climbing a mountain without end, that she no longer was able to find the strength to go on. She had tried but now felt like giving up. At the age of 17, with the consent of her mother who held her hand until the last breath, she contacted a center for euthanasia, in the Netherlands, where she lived, and where the practice is legalised, to activate the necessary process.

Noa died at her home, assisted in this final step by the clinic’s staff specialising in euthanasia practices. A tragic, terrible, overwhelming story. Noa Pothoven will no longer see the sun, the sea, the light. Her death, however, is turning on lights, thoughts, fueling reflections, widening the pain. Couldn’t this shy girl be helped?

The depression she suffered from was an internal monster that strangled her, made her all heavy, she couldn’t fly like the people of her age, ballasted by a terrible life, wounds never healed, ghosts that pulled her down, forced her to never smile, and to keep going back to horrible memories. During her childhood, Noa survived a violence that brought her first to depression and then to anorexia. The last sentence she wrote says that to love means to let go, as in this case. Is it really love?