Noa Pothoven’s best friend paid an emotional tribute to the troubled teen today who died at home after trying to end her life at an euthanasia clinic and added: ‘it’s better this way’.
The 17-year-old had wanted to end her ‘unbearable’ life after years of suffering deep depression following a series of sexual attacks.
Noa, from Arnhem in the Netherlands, sought help from an ‘end-of-life’ clinic in order to die legally but was refused euthanasia because she was too young.
However medics agreed to let her refuse food and water and installed a hospital bed at her family home where she passed away on Sunday, with her parents by her side.
Today her best friend Joyce Scholten paid a heart-felt tribute.
In a poignant Instagram post Joyce wrote: ‘I’m going to miss you terribly, but it’s better this way. I love you with all my heart. Have a good trip, dear Noa.’
Underneath her post she added several hashtags, including #anorexiarecovery, #mentalhealthawareness, and – poignantly – #recoveryispossible.
Joyce was among a handful of close-knit friends who remained close to Noa as she was shuttled between mental health hospitals and clinics while she battled against self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
She vowed to continue Noa’s fight for better mental health provisions in the Netherlands for troubled teenagers.
‘I am going to continue the fight and show you up there that I can do it,’ she wrote.
‘Goodbye sweetheart. I love you infinitely.’
Joyce’s mother told how she hoped that Noa was now at peace.
Janet Scholten wrote: ‘I hope dear Noa that wherever you go now, you get the peace you deserve. Noa, I wish I could have taken over the pain of you.’
And Janet thanked Noa for supporting her own daughter, who also suffers from mental health difficulties.
She wrote: ‘Dear Noa thanks for everything you have done or Joyce. RIP Noa.. thanks for everything.’
Noa suffered years of debilitating depression which started when she was aged just 11.
The once-happy-go-lucky teenager fell into a never-ending spiral of depression – first anorexia, then self-harm, and finally attempts at suicide.
Her hard-working parents Frans and Lisette Pothoven could not understand why the light gone out of their beautiful daughter’s life.
Noa and her brother and sister had all been happy at the modest family terraced home in the working-class district of Elderveld on the outskirts of Arnhem.
There is a pond with ducks, herons and other water birds just behind the house. A sports centre is a little further on while the shops are short cycle away.
But Noa was admitted to mental hospitals, including a high-dependency unit, where she was forced to wear a non-tear hospital gown that could not be take her own life.
After some 20 hospital admissions Noa approached an end-of-life clinic in The Hague and asked if she could apply for euthanasia or assistance with suicide. The answer was no.
‘They think I’m too young to die,’ she told her local De Gelderlander newspaper in moving interview in December last year.
‘They think I should complete the trauma treatment and that my brain must first be fully grown. I’m devastated, because I can’t wait that long.’
Mother Lisette and father Frans only understood the extent of Noa’s misery when they found good-bye letters Noa had written to her parents and friends.
Noa finally confessed to them that she had been sexually abused twice aged 11 and 12 and raped by two men when aged 14 – causing her post-traumatic stress disorder.
The troubled teenager wrote a book about her battles with depression and self-harm in a bid to get better mental health provision for youngsters.
The autobiography called ‘Winning or Learning’ was acclaimed and should be a mandatory read for social workers, her mother Lisette claims.
On Saturday Noa posted a message announcing she will die ‘within a maximum of ten days’.
She added: ‘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 unable.’
Parents Frans and Lisette were at Noa’s bedside when she passed away on Sunday.
Noa’s family have told how they hope her tragic story can serve a higher purpose and help other vulnerable youngsters.
In a statement the Pothoven family said: ‘We, parents of Noa Pothoven, are deeply saddened by the death of our daughter. Noa had chosen not to eat and drink anymore.
‘We would like to emphasize that this was the cause of her death. She died in our presence last Sunday.
‘We are in full mourning for Noa. We want peace.’