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Woman ending her life aged 29 explains how she'll spend her final moments

Woman ending her life aged 29 explains how she'll spend her final moments

Zoraya ter Beek says the process will take place in the next few weeks

Warning: This article contains discussion of assisted dying that some readers may find distressing.

A woman who has made the decision to end her life as she can no longer 'cope' with her mental health battle has explained how she will spend her final moments.

Zoraya ter Beek told of how she felt an immediate sense of 'relief' after officials in the Netherlands gave the final approval for her to die by assisted suicide last week, following a 'long and complicated' three and a half year process.

The 29-year-old - who was once an aspiring psychiatrist - suffers from chronic depression, anxiety, unspecified personality disorder and has been diagnosed with autism.

After undergoing years of therapy, medication and different treatments, Zoraya said she knew she 'couldn’t cope with the way she lives now' and applied for assisted dying in December 2020.

Under Dutch law passed in 2002, competent adults may be eligible for an assisted death under the condition that they are experiencing 'unbearable suffering with no prospect improvement' - which medics involved must also agree with.

The application process

After a three and a half year wait, Zoraya has finally been granted her wish and is expected to end her life in the coming weeks to escape her unbearable mental suffering.

Speaking to the Guardian, she said: "People think that when you’re mentally ill, you can’t think straight, which is insulting.

(RTL Nieuws/YouTube/Fress Press)
(RTL Nieuws/YouTube/Fress Press)

"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’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," Zoraya said.

Treatments she has tried

She explained that she has 'never hesitated' about her decision while waiting for officials to rubber stamp it, even after meeting a new partner and hoping that the safe environment he offered would help her mental state.

"But I continued to self-harm and feel suicidal," Zoraya said.

She has tried talking therapies, meds and more than 30 sessions of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and was initially optimistic, but says ultimately these methods 'didn't fix the main issues'.

"I thought I’d get better," the 29-year-old continued. "But the longer the treatment goes on, you start losing hope."

After ten years, Zoraya said she had exhausted all avenues of treatment and 'accepted' there was nothing that could be done, prompting her to apply for assisted dying.

She explained that the process - which she expects to take place sometime in the next few weeks - will be 'like falling asleep' and that it will take place in her home with a medical team.

(RTL Nieuws/YouTube/Fress Press)
(RTL Nieuws/YouTube/Fress Press)

Final moments

Zoraya said: "They’ll start by giving me a sedative, and won’t give me the drugs that stop my heart until I’m in a coma.

"For me, it will be like falling asleep. My partner will be there, but I’ve told him it’s OK if he needs to leave the room before the moment of death.

"Now the point has come, we’re ready for it and we’re finding a certain peace. I feel guilty too. But sometimes when you love someone, you have to let them go."

Zoraya admitted she has wrestled with feelings of guilt and says she is 'not blind to the pain' her choice is bringing her friends and family, but says she is still 'absolutely determined to go through with it'.

She also touched on the 'total sh*tstorm' which came her way when her case was publicised across the world in April.

Zoraya said her inbox 'exploded' and she faced a lot of backlash, which forced her to delete all social media.

"People were saying: ‘Don’t do it, your life is precious.’ I know that," she added. "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. I couldn’t handle all the negativity."

Zoraya said doctors ask her at every stage if she is sure about her choice and remind her she can back out at any point, but she remains steadfast in her decision to end her own life.

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, please don’t suffer alone. Call Samaritans for free on their anonymous 24-hour phone line on 116 123.

Featured Image Credit: RTL Nieuws/YouTube/Fress Press

Topics: Health, Mental Health, World News, News