Home » Physically fit Dutch woman, aged 29, wins right to die after battling depression; ‘never hesitated’

Physically fit Dutch woman, aged 29, wins right to die after battling depression; ‘never hesitated’

In a landmark decision, a young Dutch woman‘s fight for her own end has come to a conclusion. Zoraya ter Beek, a 29-year-old physically healthy woman, has been granted approval for euthanasia due to her severe and treatment-resistant depression. The approval was confirmed by officials in the Netherlands, and her decision will come into effect in the coming weeks. The move has caused a stir across Europe. Zoraya received the final approval last week after a three-and-a-half-year long battle.

Passive euthanasia refers to the withdrawal of medical treatment with the deliberate intention of hastening a terminally ill patient’s death.(HT File (Representational Image))

Dutch woman granted euthanasia

According to the Post, Zoraya first applied for assisted suicide in 2020, citing prolonged depression and continuous suicidal thoughts resulting from childhood trauma. Her case has further intensified the ongoing controversy in the Netherlands regarding the rising number of euthanasia for people. The Guardian reports that in 2010, there were only 2 cases related to psychiatric illness, but by 2023, this number had risen to 138, accounting for 1.5% of the 9,068 euthanasia deaths. The numbers continue to climb.

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Who is Zoraya ter Beek?

Zoraya was once an aspiring psychiatrist. Initially, she believed that a good partner and a safe living environment would help her cope with her troubling childhood memories. However, this did not help her. The report states that her hopes for mental healing were dashed after she saw no recovery and the suicidal thoughts continued haunting her. “The Dutch woman was suffering from chronic depression, anxiety, trauma, borderline personality disorder, and was diagnosed with autism.”

Zoraya ter Beek’s response to her euthanasia

Her case caught the attention of international media and sparked a massive public debate on social media about the severity of her illness. Zoraya responded to the discussions, criticising the widespread commentary that she can’t think straight because of her condition. “People think that when you’re mentally ill, you can’t think straight, which is insulting,” she spoke to 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 said.

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What are the criteria for euthanasia in Netherlands?

In the Netherlands, a person can be granted permission for euthanasia if their request is “voluntary and well-considered.” Additionally, there are several other criteria, such as “unbearable suffering without prospect of improvement” and the absence of any “reasonable alternative.”

In Zoraya’s case, she revealed that she was receiving intensive therapy, including talk therapy, medication, and over 30 electroconvulsive therapy sessions. “In therapy, I learned a lot about myself and coping mechanisms, but it didn’t fix the main issues. At the beginning of treatment, you start out hopeful. I thought I’d get better. But the longer the treatment goes on, you start losing hope.”

Zoraya ter Beek, after a decade of battling severe depression with no success, said she never hesitated with her decision. “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, and friends and I’m not blind to their pain. And I’ve felt scared. But I’m absolutely determined to go through with it.”