Physically healthy woman, 29, who will die by euthanasia responds to critics who tell her not to go through with it

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By Kim Novak

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A physically healthy woman who is set to die by euthanasia imminently has hit back at people who criticized her decision.

Zoraya ter Beek made the decision to end her life with assisted dying on the grounds of unbearable mental suffering.

It has taken her three and a half years to get final approval to go ahead with her decision, but her case sparked a widespread debate about the ethics of allowing people to die by euthanasia if they are not terminally ill.

In a new interview, Zoraya has opened up about the messages she received from critics trying to make her change her mind, and her response to those who don't think she should go through with it.


Zoraya received the final approval for assisted dying last week after the process took three and a half years due to a law passed in the Netherlands in 2002.

While assisted dying for people with psychiatric conditions remains rare in the Netherlands, numbers have risen, from just two cases in 2010, to 138 in 2023, however, it remains just 1.5% of the total euthanasia deaths, as reported by the Guardian.

After Zoraya spoke out about her decision in April, she faced a huge reaction, particularly from those who disagreed with assisted dying on mental health grounds.

She told the outlet: "People think that when you’re mentally ill, you can’t think straight, which is insulting.

"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."

It took over three years of assessments with medical professionals for her case to be approved. Credit: Javi Sanz/Getty Images

In order to be eligible for assisted dying, a person must be living with "unbearable suffering with no prospect of improvement” and be fully informed and competent to make the decision.

Zoraya's mental suffering began in childhood and she has chronic depression, anxiety, trauma, and unspecified personality disorder, as well as autism.

She had hoped that things would ease after meeting her partner and living in a safe environment together, but found she still felt suicidal and would self-harm.

Throughout the next decade, she underwent many intensive treatments including 30 session of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) as well as medication and talking therapies, and while it helped her learn about herself and coping strategies, it did not fix the "main issues".

After 10 years of trying, Zoraya found there was "nothing left" that could help her, and struggled to cope with life, applying for assisted dying in December 2020.

She had considered taking her own life, but seeing the impact a friend's suicide had on their friends and family made her certain it was not the right decision for her.


Zoraya explained: "It’s a long and complicated process. It’s not like you ask for assisted dying on a Monday and you’re dead by Friday.

"I was on a waiting list for assessment for a long time, because there are so few doctors willing to be involved in assisted dying for people with mental suffering. Then you have to be assessed by a team, have a second opinion about your eligibility, and their decision has to be reviewed by another independent doctor."

She revealed: "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."

Zoraya revealed how thorough the doctors assessing her have been, even sending her boyfriend - who'd gone with her to support her - out of meetings so that they could be sure she was able to speak freely about her decision.

Despite the stringent measures she has had to go through for over three years, news of her case saw hundreds of people bombard her on social media to try and convince her not to go through with it, or convert her to their faith.

Zoraya was forced to delete her social media accounts due to the backlash. Credit: Twitter

The attention got so intense, Zoraya was forced to delete her social media accounts to avoid it, explaining: "People were saying: 'Don’t do it, your life is precious.' I know that.

"Others said they had a cure, like a special diet or drugs. Some told me to find Jesus or Allah, or told me I’d burn in hell. It was a total s**tstorm. I couldn’t handle all the negativity."

Zoraya believes she will be euthanized in the next few weeks now that official approval has been given, adding: "I feel relief. It’s been such a long fight."

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or visit 988lifeline.org.
Featured image credit: Jeffrey Basinger/Newsday RM via Getty Images

Physically healthy woman, 29, who will die by euthanasia responds to critics who tell her not to go through with it

vt-author-image

By Kim Novak

Article saved!Article saved!

A physically healthy woman who is set to die by euthanasia imminently has hit back at people who criticized her decision.

Zoraya ter Beek made the decision to end her life with assisted dying on the grounds of unbearable mental suffering.

It has taken her three and a half years to get final approval to go ahead with her decision, but her case sparked a widespread debate about the ethics of allowing people to die by euthanasia if they are not terminally ill.

In a new interview, Zoraya has opened up about the messages she received from critics trying to make her change her mind, and her response to those who don't think she should go through with it.


Zoraya received the final approval for assisted dying last week after the process took three and a half years due to a law passed in the Netherlands in 2002.

While assisted dying for people with psychiatric conditions remains rare in the Netherlands, numbers have risen, from just two cases in 2010, to 138 in 2023, however, it remains just 1.5% of the total euthanasia deaths, as reported by the Guardian.

After Zoraya spoke out about her decision in April, she faced a huge reaction, particularly from those who disagreed with assisted dying on mental health grounds.

She told the outlet: "People think that when you’re mentally ill, you can’t think straight, which is insulting.

"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."

It took over three years of assessments with medical professionals for her case to be approved. Credit: Javi Sanz/Getty Images

In order to be eligible for assisted dying, a person must be living with "unbearable suffering with no prospect of improvement” and be fully informed and competent to make the decision.

Zoraya's mental suffering began in childhood and she has chronic depression, anxiety, trauma, and unspecified personality disorder, as well as autism.

She had hoped that things would ease after meeting her partner and living in a safe environment together, but found she still felt suicidal and would self-harm.

Throughout the next decade, she underwent many intensive treatments including 30 session of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) as well as medication and talking therapies, and while it helped her learn about herself and coping strategies, it did not fix the "main issues".

After 10 years of trying, Zoraya found there was "nothing left" that could help her, and struggled to cope with life, applying for assisted dying in December 2020.

She had considered taking her own life, but seeing the impact a friend's suicide had on their friends and family made her certain it was not the right decision for her.


Zoraya explained: "It’s a long and complicated process. It’s not like you ask for assisted dying on a Monday and you’re dead by Friday.

"I was on a waiting list for assessment for a long time, because there are so few doctors willing to be involved in assisted dying for people with mental suffering. Then you have to be assessed by a team, have a second opinion about your eligibility, and their decision has to be reviewed by another independent doctor."

She revealed: "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."

Zoraya revealed how thorough the doctors assessing her have been, even sending her boyfriend - who'd gone with her to support her - out of meetings so that they could be sure she was able to speak freely about her decision.

Despite the stringent measures she has had to go through for over three years, news of her case saw hundreds of people bombard her on social media to try and convince her not to go through with it, or convert her to their faith.

Zoraya was forced to delete her social media accounts due to the backlash. Credit: Twitter

The attention got so intense, Zoraya was forced to delete her social media accounts to avoid it, explaining: "People were saying: 'Don’t do it, your life is precious.' I know that.

"Others said they had a cure, like a special diet or drugs. Some told me to find Jesus or Allah, or told me I’d burn in hell. It was a total s**tstorm. I couldn’t handle all the negativity."

Zoraya believes she will be euthanized in the next few weeks now that official approval has been given, adding: "I feel relief. It’s been such a long fight."

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or visit 988lifeline.org.
Featured image credit: Jeffrey Basinger/Newsday RM via Getty Images