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A 29-year-old Dutch woman receives permission to undergo euthanasia due to mental suffering

Zoraya ter Beek is now in her final moments of preparation, with her assisted death expected in just a few weeks

Since childhood, Zoraya ter Beek, a 29-year-old Dutch woman, has faced an uphill battle with serious mental health problems. Diagnosed with chronic depression, anxiety, trauma, unspecified personality disorder and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), she has undergone a series of intensive treatments over the years.

Despite efforts with psychotherapy, medications and more than 30 sessions of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), Zoraya has found no relief and continues to be suicidal and self-harm. You recently asked the government for permission to carry out euthanasia, which should take place in the next few weeks.

Zoraya’s story was first highlighted in April of this year by The Free Press. According to him, the decision for euthanasia came after his psychiatrist declared that all treatment resources had been exhausted. “The situation will never improve,” he recalls the doctor’s words. In an interview with The Guardian, Zoraya explained that, at the beginning of treatment, he still had hope for improvement, but over time this hope dissipated.

“During therapy, I learned a lot about myself and coping mechanisms, but it didn’t solve the core problems. At the beginning of treatment, you start out hopeful. I thought I would get better. But the longer the treatment goes on, the more they begin to feel lose hope,” he reported. After ten years of unsuccessful treatments, he says he realized that there was nothing left to bet on.


The decision to request euthanasia came shortly after the ECT sessions ended in August 2020. Zoraya reports spending a period accepting that there was no more treatment available before officially submitting the request in December of that year. request for euthanasia. government. “I knew I couldn’t deal with the way I live now,” she told the Guardian, recalling that she had once considered suicide but decided against it after the violent death of a schoolmate and the impact it had had on his family.

The Netherlands, a pioneer in legalizing active euthanasia and assisted suicide, allows a person to request euthanasia if they are suffering unbearably and without any prospect of improvement. The law requires that the request be made seriously and with full conviction and that a doctor and an independent specialist confirm the patient’s condition.

Zoraya explained that the process is “long and complicated”, demystifying the idea that euthanasia is granted quickly. She faced a long wait for her case to be evaluated due to a shortage of doctors willing to perform assisted dying in cases of mental illness. “You have to be assessed by a team, get a second opinion on your suitability and their decision has to be reviewed by another independent doctor,” she explained.

Reactions and controversies

When her story was published by The Free Press, Zoraya received a flood of emails, mostly from the United States, begging her not to do it, telling her that her life was precious. “I know it is [preciosa]” he responded, but added that many messages suggested alternative “cures” or religious condemnations, which he found offensive and insensitive.

Zoraya is now in her final moments of preparation, with her assisted death expected in just a few weeks. She told The Guardian that, although she feels fear and guilt about the suffering she will cause her partner, her family and her friends, she is absolutely determined. The medical team will come to her home in the town near the German border, where she lives with her two cats, to perform the surgery.

“For me it will be like falling asleep. My partner will be there, but I told him it’s okay if he has to leave the room before the moment of death,” says the Dutchman.

Source: Terra

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