Photo by Reyer Boxem

Made saw her friend die on Instagram

'Where was I when Anna needed me?'

A month ago, 27-year-old Anna took her own life in a gas explosion on the Nijensteinheerd in Groningen, after first killing her cat. Her friend, psychology student Made Verne, is still trying to cope with the tragedy. ‘We all failed her.’
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Door Yelena Kilina

9 June om 14:21 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:15 uur.
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By Yelena Kilina

June 9 at 14:21 PM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:15 PM.
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Yelena Kilina

International editor Volledig bio International editor Full bio

Do you need help? Please contact the 113 Suicide Prevention Foundation at 0900-0113 (available 24/7) and / or

‘Anna is going to die’, says the text Made Verne gets on the sunny afternoon of May 12. 

‘No, she’s not’, Made texts back. She brushes off the fear. The video that Romana Habanova, a former student of European languages and cultures at the UG, has sent her is extremely disturbing. Their mutual friend Anna has just shared it on Instagram. It shows Anna killing her beloved cat, because, she says, the police have already taken away her dogs. 

Shocking as the video is, this isn’t the first time Made, a psychology student from Latvia, has seen her friend in a crisis. ‘Anna always went through these cycles where it was really bad, and then it was really good.’ Made hasn’t been in touch with Anna for the past few months, because Anna has blocked her, along with many other friends, from her social media. But Made has known Anna for four years, so she hopes and believes that this will pass like it has before. 


Nevertheless, Made immediately calls the police when Romana texts her. At the same time, Romana, who’s currently based in Slovakia, contacts the Groningen centre for addiction care, VNN. When the people at VNN explain that they can’t do anything because Anna isn’t their patient, Romana calls Anna herself. 

While Romana is talking to Anna, Made watches another video that Anna has posted on Instagram. She’s relieved to see police officers and firefighters outside of Anna’s house. ‘Thank God, I thought, the police are there, she’s going to be fine.’

Anna disconnected the gas in her house and barricaded herself inside

But then Romana texts again, saying her phone battery has lost its charge during the video call. ‘Anna disconnected the gas in her house and barricaded herself inside!’ she writes. Knowing that Anna is all alone, Made immediately dials her number. Again and again and again. But Anna doesn’t pick up. What she does do is post Instagram stories, saying she’s ready to accept all the pain of the world in order to heal and become invincible.

Minutes later, after Anna’s building has been evacuated, firefighters decide to break her ground-floor window to get in. A big explosion blasts the whole window outwards. Anna is killed instantly. 


Made had met Anna and Romana four years earlier, while auditioning for the same English-language play at the Groningen University Theatre Society. ‘The first thing I remember thinking is that she was so pretty, like a fairy with her long hair’, recalls Made. 

Anna would always steal the scene, not just with her natural beauty, but also her artistry and outgoing personality. 

She knew how to enjoy life. Once, she wanted to test drive an expensive Tesla, so she went to the dealership and let the salesmen believe she was a millionaire interested in buying a car. It worked. ’When we met it was fun, but sometimes it was overwhelming’, Made says. 

Behind that joyous façade, Anna hid a lot of pain. Born in Russia in 1992, Anna grew up in a foster family. Her mum brought her to the Netherlands, but was raped on the way here and later took her own life. Anna learned about it through her foster mother, who told her: ‘Your mum killed herself because she didn’t love you.’  


Growing up, Anna turned to spirituality and soft drugs. She believed she was healing through pain and felt way better than the other people in her borderline personality disorder group. ‘Anna was full of love and loved herself, so I didn’t see her as a borderline person’, Made says, looking back. ‘She was also open about things she believed in.’ 

Anna was full of love and loved herself

She told Made that the first time she did psychedelic drugs, she had seen her dead mother holding a red cat. ‘And then her mum was like, “Don’t be sad Anna, you will have me with you” and let the cat go. The next day an actual red cat showed up at the house.’

By that time she had already rescued two dogs she loved dearly. ‘She even dropped out of the theatre society, in part because her dogs weren’t allowed where we were rehearsing.’ 


When Romana saw that Anna had killed her cat, she immediately realised how serious the situation was. ‘We both knew that cat was like a piece of Anna’s soul.’ Anna herself was devastated. ‘She cried and said it would resurrect as a lion, as would she.’

Made still didn’t believe that Anna actually wanted to die. ‘A few minutes before she died, she seemed happy that she was healing’, says Made. ‘It was very confusing.’

No matter how difficult her moments of depression were, Anna always had plans for the future. She wanted to write a book and make music. She wanted to buy a castle in Spain to live there with her friends. ‘She had the castle as a phone screensaver.’ And, says Made, ‘she once said she wasn’t going to kill herself like her mum, her path was different.’

Yet Anna was ‘a lonely person for sure’ and not an easy person to be around, says Made. Even though she had many friends, they sometimes saw her as a chore and avoided her. 


Made didn’t go to Anna’s funeral, because it had been months since they last saw each other. Romana didn’t either, because she was in lockdown in Slovakia. They do, however, feel guilty. ‘It is hard not to blame yourself. I was in Groningen, so I could have biked there, but I didn’t think anything was going to happen’, says Made. 

She once said she wasn’t going to kill herself like her mum

She was angry when she learned that people only wanted to talk about the good times at Anna’s funeral. Anna mostly had bad times. ‘Everybody wants a happy ending, but this really wasn’t one. Where were all these people, where was I, when Anna needed us?’

It’s unfair, she says, because people are constantly asking her how she feels, when there was nobody to check on Anna when she needed it. 

Made’s left with the horrible feeling that people didn’t do enough that day. Not the police, not the social workers and not Anna’s friends. ‘It must be scary when all these people are standing outside your house, watching you. Everybody else had been evacuated, so there was nobody talking to Anna. People were just waiting.’ 

Open letter

Made and Romana want the police and social services to admit they could have done more, to prevent something like this won’t happen again. ‘Her dogs were taken away because she was ‘crazy’, but if she was, why was she left alone there?’ 

Who would have taken care of her if she had only been wounded?

The two of them wrote an open letter to social services and the city, to share what they call ‘Anna’s truth’. The ‘system’, Made thinks, has no solution for people who have no family that fights for them. ‘I was thinking of all these scenarios of what could have happened if she hadn’t died, but got badly injured. Who would have taken care of her?’ 

People often fail to take action, because they expect someone else will do something. But they’re wrong, Made says. ‘Sometimes there isn’t anyone else.’


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