Your Life – What’s It Worth To You?

Written by Michael Cummings on June 14, 2019

If those who feel pain would take their lives, the planet would be empty.

We are not in a good position, if this is a trend.

A Dutch teen who was sexually assaulted at age 11 and raped at 14 chose to end her life because she couldn’t deal with the anguish anymore.

Noa Pothoven, 17, who lived in the Netherlands, wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post about her heartbreaking decision to stop eating — leading to her death Sunday.

“Love is letting go, in this case,” she said in the post.

“Maybe this comes as a surprise to some, given my posts about hospitalization, but my plan has been there for a long time and is not impulsive,” the Arnhem resident said in the post announcing her choice to die in the living room of her home.

The teen explained that she was suffering from, “unbearable pain. 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… This is my decision and it is final.

“I breathe, but I no longer live.”

It wasn’t clear how the teen died.

The Netherlands legalized euthanasia in 2001, the year Pothoven was born, and she sought to end her life that way last year but was rejected, according to Dutch News.

The country allows children from 12 through 16 to kill themselves with permission from a parent, and if a doctor agrees that their suffering is unbearable and likely to continue.

Pothoven, who asked friends not to try to change her mind, wrote that she suffered from posttraumatic stress and anorexia in the wake of the sex attacks, according to The Sun in London.

Last year, she was admitted to the Rijnstate Hospital in Arnhem seriously underweight and with near-organ failure. She was put in a coma and fed with tubes.

In her 2018 autobiography, “Winning or Learning,’’ Pothoven said she was sexually assaulted at a friend’s party at age 11, then again a year later at another get-together, before being raped by two men on the street at age 14.

Narcissism doesn’t always have to mean braggadocio. In fact, it’s more often self pity. And this degree of narcissism makes me sad.

It’s a safe bet those who support Noa are scoffing at me. “You’ve never been assaulted or raped!” or “You don’t suffer from the debilitating pain I’ve had for years. You don’t know what it’s like!” And for the morally confused libertarians out there: “If she wants to take her life, let her. It’s no one’s business.”

If society crumbles because we don’t value life – before birth or after – isn’t it everyone’s business?

Chronic pain – emotional, mental, physical – can rob people of the most basic of human behaviors. Some can get so depressed, they’re incapable of showering, brushing their teeth, or eating. Some chronic, physical pain is so excruciating that those who suffer from it turn to all manner of legal and illegal drugs to find the most minute relief if even for a few moments. And whether that pain in its various forms is caused by humans or nature, it’s easy to see why these people would contemplate suicide.

That doesn’t make suicide the right choice.

The religious aspects of this argument are solid. If you believe in God, you are not supposed to kill yourself. The discussion should end there. But putting that aside, if you aren’t a believer in God, do you really think your time on earth is an accident, that pointing to your pain as evidence to support the case for suicide makes sense when you consider the people you will hurt when you die?

If you have seriously considered or attempted suicide and you’re still here, I have news for you. There are people who have endured more pain than you, and yet have stuck around under their natural end because they found meaning in their struggle by helping others.

For your family, for your friends, for a civil society, I plead with you: Do not end your own life. Whatever your purpose on this earth, you are a gift that should never be wasted.

Michael Cummings
Michael A. Cummings has a Bachelors in Business Management from St. John's University in Collegeville, MN, and a Masters in Rhetoric & Composition from Northern Arizona University. He has worked as a department store Loss Prevention Officer, bank auditor, textbook store manager, Chinese food delivery man, and technology salesman. Cummings wrote position pieces for the 2010 Trevor Drown for US Senate (AR) and 2012 Joe Coors for Congress (CO) campaigns.