Misinformation swirling around Dutch teenager's death ignites debate over euthanasia

Noa Pothoven posing with her award-winning autobiography, titled Winnen of Leren ("Winning or Learning").

(CNN)At just 17-years-old, Dutch teenager Noa Pothoven had already written an award-winning memoir detailing her struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anorexia in the wake of sexual assault and rape.

In her autobiography, Pothoven wrote that she had nothing left to live for.
At 16, she approached the Levenseinde, or "end-of-life," clinic in The Hague to inquire about euthanasia, but, according to an interview last year with local newspaper the Gelderlander, her request was rejected.
    Last week, after years of battling mental illness, Pothoven announced on Instagram that she had begun refusing all food and liquids.
    "After years of fighting, the fighting has finished. I have now stopped eating and drinking for a while, and after many conversations and reviews it has been decided that I will be released because my suffering is unbearable," Pothoven wrote in a post, which has since been removed.
    "I have not really been alive for so long, I am surviving, and not even that. I am still breathing but I am no longer alive."
    On Sunday, Dutch media reported that Pothoven had died in a hospital bed in her family's home in Arnhem after she stopped eating and drinking.
    But, in the hours and days that followed, a barrage of international media reports falsely suggested that Pothoven had been "legally euthanized."
    It was a sensationalist version of an already tragic story that swiftly spread across the globe, triggering an emotive debate over the ethics of euthanasia and raising questions over how someone so young could be allowed to die that way.
    Pothoven had not been euthanized, according to her family, who issued this statement in the Gelderlander: "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 kindly ask everyone to respect our privacy so we as a family can mourn."
    The Levenseinde clinic, the Royal Dutch Medical Association and the Dutch health minister also denied that Pothoven died by euthanasia.
    "Despite international media reports to the contrary, there is no question of euthanasia in this case," Dutch Minister of Health Hugo de Jonge said in a statement. "Questions about her death and the care she has received are understandable, but can only be answered once the facts have been established."
    So why did so many media outlets get it wrong?

    Media's misreporting

    Much has already been written about the failure of the media to do its due diligence in telling Pothoven's story.
    Politico Europe reporter Naomi O'Leary, one of the first English-language journalists to get the facts straight, laid out the details of Pothoven's case in a Twitter thread on Wednesday.
    "A 17-year-old rape victim was NOT euthanised in the Netherlands" O'Leary tweeted. "It took me about 10 mins to check with the reporter who wrote the original Dutch story."