This 28-year-old Dutch woman with mental illness will be euthanised in May

She'll die peacefully on her couch

The 28-year-old Zoraya ter Beek will die next month by voluntary assisted suicide.

On the surface, Ter Beek’s life looks ideal: she lives in the Netherlands in a nice house, she has money, two cats, and a boyfriend that she loves.

However, her heaviest weights are invisible: 10 years on a roundabout of mental healthcare treatment for crippling depression and autism.

While Ter Beek once dreamt of becoming a psychiatrist, she began her journey seeking assisted suicide after her psychologist told her she would never get better.

Years on a waiting list

Ter Beek spent two-and-a-half years waiting for conditional approval for her assisted suicide. When it happened, she and her boyfriend, Stein, crawled into each other’s arms on the couch and cried, reports de Gelderlander in 2023.

For Stein, his tears were from sadness. But he doesn’t want to be the one that makes her stay.

Ter Beek told the outlet at the time, “Of course I feel guilty. If I had known what I know now, the moment I met Stein… I think I would have run away fast. At least, I hope so. But it turned out differently. We love each other a lot.”

How it will happen

Next month, a doctor will arrive at Ter Beek’s home.

“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,” Ter Beek told The Free Press in an article she has since discredited.

“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.”

The doctor will administer Ter Beek a sedative first, then a drug to stop her heart.

After her death, a special committee will verify the circumstances of her death and formally declare (in most cases) the death to be legal.

Ter Beek does not have much family and so has requested no funeral. Instead, her boyfriend will scatter her ashes after her cremation.  

The world in arms

Ter Beek’s decision has made world news since an article from The Free Press was released earlier this month.

Ter Beek, who was interviewed extensively in the article, blasted the author on X (formerly Twitter) after publication, claiming the journalist misrepresented the truth and omitted parts of her interview.

“He rushed my story, took my words out of context, I don’t even have borderline personality disorder,” she wrote before deleting her X account.

The Free Press has since made TikToks claiming that the 28-year-old is being granted euthanasia despite having a “treatable illness”.

Euthanasia for mental illness

In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country to legalise assisted suicide.

The process has increasingly been accepted in the West as an option for terminally ill people. Mental illness has become included in that definition more and more.

In 2022, there were 8,720 deaths by assisted suicide in the Netherlands, comprising approximately 5% of all of the country’s deaths in the same year. Of these 8,720 assisted suicide cases, 115 were for people with a mental illness.

The 93-year-old former Dutch Prime Minister, Dries van Agt, and his wife died hand-in-hand by assisted suicide in February this year.

Criteria for Euthanasia in the Netherlands

The statutory due care criteria say that the physician must:

Source: Regional Euthanasia Review Committees

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, help is available. From the Netherlands, call 113 to access the Suicide Prevention Hotline. You can also chat at

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Feature Image:Private photo
Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺
Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺
Sam has over six years experience writing about life in the Netherlands and leads the content team at DutchReview. She originally came to the Netherlands to study in 2016 and now holds a BA (Hons.) in Arts, a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and (almost) a Masters in Teaching. She loves to write about settling into life in the Netherlands, her city of Utrecht, learning Dutch, and jobs in the Netherlands — and she still can’t jump on the back of a moving bike (she's learning!).


  1. As an autistic person, I respect her decision. People do not understand… Reading comments on the original article and it’s reposts is incredible. She is right, her story has been hijacked. People are missing the point entirely and hijacking it. It’s a classic example of an autistic person reaching out and just getting used.

    Imagine always feeling your clothes rub on your skin, imagine that what other people find fun, you find crippling because all of your physical senses are heightened to the point where you are blinded by the lighting in most places, or when you walk into school or supermarket, all you hear is a explosive waterfall of sound caused by everyone talking at the same time. Imagine having heightened emotions and elevated empathy that people just walk over all the time, but also having people use and manipulate you because you can never full read their communication style to know if they are genuine or not. You see humanity in all its raw form from high orbit as an outsider, and you see where it’s going and it’s not good, but you’re powerless to stop the train wreck. You feel like an alien with your own kind. They operate by different rules.

    The experience is hard. It’s not normal depression. It’s I can’t get off the floor today because I went to a supermarket and drowned trying to survive it yesterday. It’s overthinking everything, our brains process wayyyy more information all the time and It never turns off. It’s not normal exhaustion when we crash, its not something you can just brush off. We hide it well, we fake looking normal for other peoples convivence and it drains you even further. Many are like me and didn’t even know. We hit a life crash later in life and never recover to surface. Other people just bounce back.. we don’t, we drown. You spend your entire life warping yourself to fit others, but no others ever return the favour to meet you half way to help you cut the energy drain.

    If its her time to go, because the struggle is to much, the damage is to much, let her choose to end it the way she needs. Suicide rates of autistic people are very high. There is a reason for that stat. Learn why. We are wired very differently and are a minority neurotype. For the way we are wired, the way buildings and environments are designed… The environment literally cripples us. We are constantly exhausted into literal oblivion trying to adapt. I respect her choice, because I know that if people had to swap places with her actual lived experience, they would possibly choose it too.

    • Thank you so much for posting this and educating us. Is there a post or article where she talks about her autism and how it affects her quality of life? I am on the spectrum but it doesn’t affect me to such a degree. Even then, coping with things like texture and trying to be normal around people takes a toll

  2. I don’t know what to think about this….
    I’ve seen suicide for mental illness… this would have been better for that person and their family. So I guess I’m not against it.

  3. I am also not sure what to think of this. Original article spoke of her having crippling depression. My question is was she able to try alternate treatment methods besides medication. Such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, ECT, TMS, VNS. I am not certain what the availability of such treatments are in the Netherlands. I have also never heard of a psychiatrist, psychologist, or psychotherapist telling a patient there is no hope. Just feeling very troubled by this story and feel tremendously for this young woman.

    • Wow if I had this option I would take it
      Medication EMDR CBT DBT AND ALL THE REST have been tried. Cptsd is real and complicated and has a lifelong impact. On the outside you can seem so strong and “normal” but inside it’s a minute to minute battle internally to keep going . Raised my kids and gave them a decent life and now if I cooks go I would! The constant internal struggle is exhausting. Knowing my kids have never seen me truly joyful and always anxious breaks my heart . No one can tell another person what quality of life is or is not. That is an independent evaluation! How dare anyone tell another person that they should live and live a certain way!

    • Hear hear. My thoughts entirely.
      So many questions are unanswered.
      In principle, as a
      practitioner I would never say that someone experiencing seriously disabling long-term continuing depression; whether or not in the context of Autism; that he or she will never get better.
      We don’t know that for sure.
      I’ve been practicing as a qualified Behavioural Psychotherapist for Adults since 1979 and have worked with many people on the Autistic Spectrum, with seemingly intractable depression, so debilitating & disabling that suicide has been a regular consideration. For example, high quality Dialectical Behaviour Therapy combined with a Spectrum of other Behavoural Psychotherspies, delivered within a framework of that person’s Autism ( the Personal Contructs/ Core Schema & Schemas of someone who thinks & percieves in an autistic way) …often helps people to survive, & experience a life that they come to consider is worth living.
      It takes a longer (say compared with helping people who experience depressive illness, without the effects of their own, individual & personal autism) but it can be done.
      I’m truly sorry that this young woman is doing this.

      Of all the things Psychological treatment practitioners should not do, in the face of an illness that is not physically evidentially terminal, is to tell someone that they will not get better.
      None of us psychological practiioners can predict this with complete (or enough) certainty
      If the young woman to be Euthnanised was arguing that she’d had enough, and no longer wanted to engage with evidence-based therapies; for whatever reason; then I could more easily understand how she reached her decision to request euthanasia (based on her own life experience).

  4. Something just doesn’t sound right here .If she allegedly loves her boyfriend and cats ,why would she willingly leave them ? Plus when people are in depth of depression ,they are not always of sound mind to make significant decisions .Just awful ,this seems so wrong that this law is used for mental illness and young people .So sad 😔

    • What? Depression is that – it’s a black hole! You CAN love someone and still want to die! You can have moments of happiness and still feel tremendous pain! When someone has lived with constant depression and that is what is constant – over time it wears you down! When you have tried medication (which they don’t even understand the mechanics of) and therapies and all that you can and you still feel that deep black pit of desperation that is depression! Every person has a right to determine when they have struggled and fought long enough! When they determine they no longer have quality of life!

  5. However bad it may while alive, it will infinitely worse than anything we can imagine —***IF***— she has not asked Jesus for salvation before her heart stops beating. Hell/an eventual eternal lake of fire, awaits this woman, provided one thing, listed above, does not happen.
    In Heaven, for those few who go, they’re going to walking barefoot on streets of transparent gold.
    Both places really do exist.

  6. I agree with assisted death, but geez, research may discover a medication for autism tomorrow, in 5 years, etc. Her physicians should have encouraged her about the future cures rather than giving her the grim prognosis that “she would NEVER get better.” How sad that all they gave up.

  7. depression and autism is not a reason to kill yourself Zoraya, wish i know your email or any way to write to you directly, travel Zoraya, go to far away places and countries, see nature and other nations and cultures, i will be so sad if she commit euthanasia

  8. Zoraya. I understand you. I suffer crippling depression. Every day. I’m still fighting a case for justice – regarding the unnecessary death by negligence from health system, – of my former partner. His death left a mess. And a son. And two stepchildren. And we are still cleaning it up. That sort of thing happens. Illness happens. Pain happens. But Life is a gift. The beauty of the morning. Birdsong. Love. Motherhood could await you – and it could release you. You’re beautiful. Young. Intelligent. You’re capable of loving your boyfriend, and he you back. You’re capable of loving your cats. And them you back. Don’t give up on life just because you can. Just because the trendy up to date Dutch system allows you to give up. Embrace life. Go abroad, help people that have a very little things to live for. The poor for dispossessed. Work afar. Or work near, but life with all its faults – is beautiful often. Pain is hard. It’s also bittersweet. It’s called being human – and humanity, with all its fault lines, is great. Please don’t give up on it yet.

  9. I like that she noted the inherent prejudice of anyone religious in the process. They share an arrogance with the medical profession that they know best that there is an ability of others to force their political and religious beliefs on a person. No one suffering from clinical depression, no one who has looked into the abyss would ever say that the condition couldn’t get to the point where their quality of life is so badly compromised that they would simply want the suffering to end. You either believe in the autonomy of the individual or you don’t. To offer assistance is the core of kindness, she could have gone outside the compassion system and simply ended herself, but that would be incredibly traumatizing for a person suffering from trauma on a daily basis. Let her be. Let her find her own peace. Let her choose what to do with her life, it is hers and no one else’s. Thank her and laud her for her courage. Remember her and she isn’t dead.

  10. Ever since I seen her videos, it’s been a nightmare for me. The reason this greatly disturbs me is bc PSYCHIATRISTS are NOT HELPING HER – if anything, telling her this, they are handing her a death sentence. I am wondering if she has tried other forms of therapy, such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)? It has been 90% effective in helping those with anxiety and/or depression. Many psychiatrists are NOT therapists….those with an MD after their name are trained in MEDICINE and do not understand/acknowledge the benefits psychosocial interventions – therapy – they ARE NOT TRAINED in therapeutic methods to help a mentally ill individual. If she has not tried, if you can ask her if she would PLEASE look into it? It has haunted me ever since I heard this. I do believe in psychotropic medications when someone[p NEEDS it….but psychotherapy/CBT have been PROVEN TO SHOW RESULTS IN THOSE WHO SUFFER FROM DEPRESSION.

    She may have been taking medication for so long, that her body has built up a resistance. I am NOT religious so I am not going to ask her to pray to god….but I have been trained in the field of psychology and drug and alcohol counseling. I KNOW FOR A FACT – CBT and other forms of psychosocial interventions can have miraculous benefits on a mentally ill, suffering individual.


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