Physically healthy Dutch woman granted approval for assisted suicide due to chronic depression

Zoraya ter Beek's decision sparks debate on euthanasia for mental suffering in the Netherlands.

Physically healthy Dutch woman granted approval for assisted suicide due to chronic depression
RTL Nieuws
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Zoraya ter Beek, a 29-year-old Dutch woman, has been granted final approval by officials in the Netherlands to end her life through assisted suicide due to her chronic depression and other mental health struggles.

Ter Beek, who once aspired to become a psychiatrist, has been battling depression, anxiety, trauma, borderline personality disorder, and autism, which stemmed from difficulties in her early childhood, as initially reported by The Free Press

“People think that when you’re mentally ill, you can’t think straight, which is insulting,” ter Beek said in an interview with The Guardian. “I understand the fears that some disabled people have about assisted dying, and worries about people being under pressure to die."

“But in the Netherlands, we’ve had this law for more than 20 years. There are really strict rules, and it’s really safe,” she added. “In the three and a half years this has taken, I’ve never hesitated about my decision. I have felt guilt — I have a partner, family, friends and I’m not blind to their pain. And I’ve felt scared. But I’m absolutely determined to go through with it.”

Despite finding a supportive partner, ter Beek continued to experience suicidal thoughts and self-harm. She first applied for assisted suicide in 2020 and has gone through a lengthy and complex process to be deemed eligible under Dutch law, which requires a person to be "experiencing unbearable suffering with no prospect of improvement."

Ter Beek has been evaluated by a team of physicians, received a second opinion on eligibility, and had her case reviewed by a third independent doctor. Throughout the process, she has been repeatedly asked if she is certain about her decision, and her partner has been present to support her during most conversations with doctors.

“Every doctor at every stage says: ‘Are you sure? You can stop at any point.’ My partner has been in the room for most conversations in order to support me, but several times he has been asked to leave so the doctors can be sure I’m speaking freely,” she said.

After an article about her case was published in April, ter Beek was forced to delete her social media profiles due to an influx of messages from users urging her not to go through with the procedure, causing her distress. Some offered alternative treatments or religious advice, while others warned her of eternal damnation.

Ter Beek expects to die in the coming weeks, following a final meeting with her medical team. On the day of her death, she will be given a sedative to induce a coma, followed by drugs that will stop her heart. Her partner will be present, although she has given him permission to leave the room before the moment of death if needed.

“Now the point has come, we’re ready for it and we’re finding a certain peace. I feel guilty too. But sometimes when you love someone, you have to let them go,” said ter Beek.

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  • By David Menzies

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