Physically Healthy 29-Year-Old Has Died By Euthanasia

Physically healthy woman Zoraya ter Beek has died by euthanasia at age 29 after having her request granted.
Credit: Stichting KEA & Zoraya ter Beek

A physically healthy woman seeking euthanasia has had her request granted and passed away at age 29.

Zoraya ter Beek lived in a small village in the Netherlands, near the German border.

She was in perfect physical health but decided to end her life this year.

Euthanasia, the practice of intentionally ending life to alleviate pain and suffering, remains a controversial topic with strong and conflicting opinions.

The news of this young woman’s decision has sparked widespread online discussion.

One person writes: “I support the right to die and death with dignity if the person is terminally ill and suffering. I always thought that Sweden and the Netherlands were ahead of their time with these laws.”

Another adds: “This is heartbreaking, but it’s her body, her choice, it’s as simple as that. I can understand her decision. I’m fortunate to have found a medication that at least takes the edge off.”

Zoraya ter Beek
Zoraya ter Beek has died at age 29 after having her request to be euthanised granted. Credit: Zoraya ter Beek

Euthanasia in the Netherlands is regulated by the Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act, which was passed in 2001 and took effect in 2002, according to Alliance VITA.

While assisted dying for individuals with psychiatric conditions remains uncommon in the Netherlands, there has been a gradual rise in such cases.

In 2023, 1.5% of euthanasia deaths were attributed to mental suffering, compared to just two cases out of 9,068 total deaths in 2010, according to The Guardian.

Ter Beek reportedly suffered from autism, depression, anxiety, trauma, and an unspecified personality disorder.

She asserted that living with these conditions has become unbearable, and she no longer wished to continue.

In an interview with The Free Press, ter Beek claimed a psychiatrist told her: “There’s nothing more we can do for you. It’s never gonna get any better.”

The 29-year-old added: “I was always very clear that if it doesn’t get better, I can’t do this anymore.”

Stef Groenewoud, a healthcare ethicist at Theological University Kampen, told the publication: “I’m seeing euthanasia as some sort of acceptable option brought to the table by physicians, by psychiatrists, when previously it was the ultimate last resort.

“I see the phenomenon, especially in people with psychiatric diseases, and especially young people with psychiatric disorders, where the healthcare professional seems to give up on them more easily than before.”

Kit Vanmechelen, a psychiatrist who assesses applicants and performs euthanasia, tells the BBC: “Those I know will commit suicide are terminal in my opinion. And I don’t want to abandon my patients who are not able to go on with their live.”

Zoraya ter Beek
Zoraya ter Beek said it was unbearable living with her conditions. Credit: Zoraya ter Beek

Ter Beek had previously opened up about the euthanasia process, explaining: “The doctor really takes her time. It is not that they walk in and say, ‘Lay down, please!’. Most of the time it is first a cup of coffee to settle the nerves and create a soft atmosphere.

“Then she asks if I am ready. I will take my place on the couch. She will once again ask if I am sure, and she will start up the procedure and wish me a good journey. Or, in my case, a nice nap, because I hate it if people say, ‘Safe journey’. I’m not going anywhere.”

She added: “I’m a little afraid of dying because it’s the ultimate unknown. We don’t really know what’s next – or is there nothing? That’s the scary part.

“I don’t see it as my soul leaving, but more as myself being freed from life.”

In an interview with RTL News, Ter Beek added: “I don’t want to die, but I can’t live.

“Then it’s a choice between growing old, sick and with a lot of misery, or honouring myself and saying: I’m quitting.”

She told The Guardian: “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.”

Zoraya ter Beek
With her partner by her side, Zoraya ter Beek anticipated a peaceful transition, supported by her medical team.
Credit: Zoraya ter Beek

Ter Beek said she had never second-guessed her decision, adding: “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.

“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.”

Ter Beek encountered both support and opposition regarding her journey but remained resolute in her decision.

The 29-year-old had planned the moment of her death –  her partner would be present, although she understood he would perhaps choose to leave the room before her final moments.

With her partner by her side, ter Beek anticipated a peaceful transition, supported by her medical team.

“I feel relief. It’s been such a long fight,” she concluded.

Zoraya Ter Beek
Zoraya ter Beek died shortly after her 29th birthday. Credit: Stichting KEA

A friend of ter Beek’s shared in a blog post that she had passed away at 1:25pm local time on May 22, 20 days after her 29th birthday, with the help of the Euthanasia Expertise Center.

“I am sad but happy at the same time,” her friend wrote. “Sad to miss it, but there is so much understanding that the sadness doesn’t bother me. Happy because her greatest wish could come true in the way she hoped and wished. That she could go to sleep forever.”

Ter Beek’s social media accounts have also been updated to confirm that she has passed away.

If you or someone you know is affected by any of the issues raised in this story, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the US at 800-273-TALK (8255) or text Crisis Text Line at 741741.

In the UK, the Samaritans is available 24/7 if you need to talk. You can contact them for free by calling 116 123, emailing [email protected] or heading to the website to find your nearest branch.

Related Article: Woman Who ‘Died And Came Back To Life’ Explains What Afterlife Is Like

Related Article: Parents Share Heartbreaking Reason They Supported 33-Year-Old Daughter’s Decision To Be Euthanised

Do you have a story for us? If so, email us at [email protected]. All contact will be treated in confidence.

Written by Annie Walton Doyle

Annie Walton Doyle is a content editor at IGV who specialises in trending, lifestyle and entertainment news. She graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London, with a degree in English Literature. Annie has previously worked with organisations such as The Huffington Post, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Harvard University, the Pulitzer Prize and 22 Words.