Young Dutch Woman to Legally End Life Due to Mental Health Struggles

(Oregon Right to Life) — A young woman in the Netherlands is planning to legally end her life next month after struggling with several mental health issues, The Free Press reported.

28-year-old Zoraya ter Beek told the outlet she made the decision, despite having no physical ailments, after her psychiatrist told her, “there’s nothing more we can do for you. It’s never gonna get any better.” 

“I was always very clear that if it doesn’t get better, I can’t do this anymore,” she said, according to The Free Press.

ter Beek, who lives with her boyfriend and several cats, said her mental health struggles – including autism, depression, and borderline personality disorder – have prevented her from completing her education or pursuing a career, The Free Press reported. In recent years, numerous young Dutch people have cited autism when pursuing legal assisted suicide, according to the Associated Press. 

Confident she would never emerge from her difficulties, ter Beek described wanting to be “freed from life” and has now opted for legal assisted suicide. She said she plans to end her life in early May “on the couch in the living room,” where a doctor will give her a sedative and then a lethal drug, The Free Press reported. After she dies, ter Beek wants to be cremated and to have her boyfriend scatter her ashes in the forest.

RELATED: March 31 Marked the 19th Anniversary of Terri Schiavo’s Death

The Netherlands was the first country to legalize euthanasia in 2001. Its policies surrounding assisted death have led to criticism that Dutch doctors are increasingly recommending euthanasia to patients like ter Beek rather than helping them recognize the inherent value of their lives.

Theo Boer is a healthcare ethics professor at Protestant Theological University in Groningen. He told The Free Press he served on a euthanasia review board in the Netherlands from 2005 until his resignation in 2014. During his time on the board, he said, he “saw the Dutch euthanasia practice evolve from death being a last resort to death being a default option.”

And the Netherlands is far from the only country where euthanasia is becoming increasingly common. 

Belgium, Canada, Ecuador, and Spain are among the countries in which a person can legally commit suicide with the assistance of medical professionals. The practice is also growing in the U.S., where numerous states – including California, Oregon, and Washington – have legalized euthanasia with varying criteria and limits.

RELATED: Oregon Physician-Assisted Suicide Prescriptions up 30% in 2023

Meanwhile, although an increasing number of medical providers are prescribing death as a solution to physical or even psychological difficulties, some organizations are actively working to oppose the normalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Physicians for Compassionate Care Education Foundation (PCCEF), located in Washington state, asserts that “[h]ealth care professionals have the duty to safeguard human life, especially [the lives] of the most vulnerable: the sick, elderly, disabled, poor, ethnic minorities, and those whom society may consider the most unproductive and burdensome.”

The organization states that euthanasia and assisted suicide “change the role of the physician or other health care professional in society from the traditional role of healer to that of an executioner” and “endanger the value that society places on life, especially for those who are most vulnerable and who are near the end of life.”

“The fundamental flaw in euthanasia laws is that they do not treat all humans as intrinsically and equally valuable,” PCCEF president Sharon Quick, MD, MA, said in an April 11 press release. “Physicians are given special rights and powers to use subjective and error-prone criteria to devalue those with physical and/or mental health disabilities who want to hasten their deaths.”

“Choices that undermine respect for persons and the inherent value of each life cannot be [permitted] or the entire foundation of autonomy crumbles,” Quick said. “Those who are given power (physicians, health care entities, and government) can increasingly use expanding subjective criteria to devalue and end the lives of more vulnerable people—the very ones they have a responsibility to protect.”

Like Physicians for Compassionate Care, Oregon Right to Life also opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide in all forms.

Anyone experiencing serious depression or suicidal thoughts is encouraged to reach out to the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Family members and friends of medically vulnerable people at risk for euthanasia or assisted suicide can also reach out to the Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network’s Crisis Lifeline at 1-855-300-HOPE (4673).

Written by Ashley Sadler, communications director for Oregon Right to Life.

Oregon Right to Life supports the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception until natural death. We oppose all cases of euthanasia, whereby a person is deliberately killed through direct action or omission even if that act is by their permission… In Oregon, the legal form of euthanasia is physician-assisted suicide, and is euphemistically called “death with dignity.” In this act, a physician prescribes lethal drugs knowing their patient intends to use the drugs to commit suicide. Read our full statement on euthanasia and all of our position statements here.


get involved

Sign Up and Stay Informed