“You don’t need to understand, you don’t have to agree, you don’t have to
second it. But don’t judge. You have no idea of the battles somebody else is
fighting. That’s the message I’d like to communicate. Give it some thought,
also when I’ll be gone.”

On May 22 nd , Zoraya ter Beek (29) passed away. She was an unparalleled mental
health advocate, who tried to gain understanding for people suffering from mental
illness and wanting euthanasia. She knew what she was talking about, as she was
well-informed and had such wish herself.
Her Tweets were always sharp, militant, but never aggressive. She mastered the art of
being decisive without losing nuance. Unfortunately, she deleted her Twitter account a
couple of weeks ago. She had agreed to an interview to an American newspaper, but
the article, upon its publication, didn’t do her justice, and twisted her words. She felt
betrayed and was tired of advocating publicly. Around that same time, she had a highly
unpleasant – to say the least – experience as to the SCEN-consultation 1 . Her
experience figures as an addendum to the beautiful interview conducted by Onno
Bosma with Zoraya and her partner. Onno Bosma authored the book De jas met alle
kleuren 2 , about life with his partner Ella Vogelaar, former Dutch minister, who took her
own life. Today, he interviews people who, one way or the other, have a connection to
euthanasia on the grounds of mental suffering. That too, is helpful in gaining and

1 SCEN: Steun en Consultatie bij Euthanasie in Nederland or: Support and Consultation on Euthanasia in the
Netherlands. See also: https://www.knmg.nl/download/knmg-guideline-end-of-life-decisions

2 The coat with all colours.

spreading understanding of what it means to suffer unbearably and without prospect
of betterment because of a mental health condition. The spreading of understanding is
a goal that Zoraya, too, set for herself and achieved, by far.
Now that her Twitter account no longer exists, we are no longer given the possibility to
read her words there. Fortunately, she was active elsewhere, as well. She spoke during
the first congress on euthanasia for and by people with a mental health condition,
figured in Bram Bakker’s podcast, and gave countless interviews.
There’s one statement of hers I’d like to highlight. People often asked, “Why would you
want to die? You look great, have a sweet boyfriend, good friends and a nice house.”
Her reply would be: “You wouldn’t say that to someone who has a brain tumor, would
you?”. Initially, I shied back, in hearing those words. Because although I have been
advocating for a long time for mental health conditions to be taken seriously, I thought:
‘Yes, but a brain tumor is real disease, really incurable, you really die from it.’ But of
course, she was right. She also had a real disease, that had shown to be incurable. A
disease that might not kill you physically, but that was unbearable to live with.
Mentally terminal. Mental health conditions can be fatal, too. One percent of all people
decide to end their lives, and ninety percent of that group suffer from a mental health
condition. Just to be clear: fortunately, this disastrous scenario does not apply to most
mental heath conditions. But unfortunately, it applied to Zoraya’s condition.
To be able to ‘comprehend’ the wish to be granted euthanasia due to a mental health
condition, it is fundamental to listen and speak to people with such a wish. For me, that
has changed matters. Zoraya has played a large part in that understanding.
Goodbye, I will miss you.

PS: Zoraya has had the opportunity to read this blog post and approved of its
publication.


Webbeheer

Webbeheerder

Privacyvoorkeur centrum