Pope issues warning after assisted suicide of Dutch teenager

Noa Pothoven took her life aged 17

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis called on society to stand by, and never give up on, those in suffering after news broke that Dutch teenager Noa Pothoven had been legally helped to die at her home following years of depression and eating disorders.

 Francis took to Twitter to write: “Euthanasia and assisted suicide are a defeat for everyone. We are reminded not to abandon those who suffer, to never give up, but rather to take care [of them], to love, and to restore hope.”

 His message, which will likely prove controversial to those fighting for human rights to extend to being able to legally take one’s own life, was aimed as a call to action following Pothoven’s assisted suicide to avoid repeat incidents. 

 Pothoven, 17, suffered from years of depression, post-traumatic stress, and anorexia after she was assaulted on multiple occasions and then raped as a young girl. Despite the best attempts of medical professionals, Pothoven was unable to overcome her mental scars. She had been a patient at three youth care facilities and undergone tube feeding in hospital for over a year.

 Pothoven was granted permission to take her own life after a lengthy legal procedure ultimately ruled that her suffering was “hopeless” and “unbearable.”

 Pothoven told her social media following that her choice “was not impulsive, but one [she had] considered for a long time” as she bade farewell to her friends and supporters.

 “I deliberated for quite a while whether or not I should share this, but decided to do it anyway. Maybe this comes as a surprise to some, given my posts about hospitalisation, but my plan has been there for a long time and is not impulsive,” she went on to write.

 “I will get straight to the point: within a maximum of 10 days I will die. 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.”

 She was assisted by a specialised euthanasia clinic and died in the comfort of her own home on Sunday.