A 23-year-old Belgian woman who survived a deadly Islamic State bombing of a Brussels airport opted to die by euthanasia after years of mental health issues stemming from the attack.
“That day really cracked her, she never felt safe after that,” Shanti De Corte’s mother, Marielle, told Belgian news station VRT of her daughter’s struggles since the 2016 ISIS attack on Brussels Airport in Zaventem, according to a recent report by the Daily Mail.
De Corte was a 17-year-old student traveling with classmates when terrorists affiliated with ISIS detonated a bomb in the airport in March 2016. She was walking through the departures lounge when the explosion rocked the airport, killing 33 people and wounding an additional 340.
Though De Corte survived the blast and did not suffer any physical injuries, the mental trauma of the day haunted her for the rest of her life.
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“She didn’t want to go anywhere where other people were, out of fear,” De Corte’s mother recalled. “She also had frequent panic attacks and she never got rid of it.'”
Belgium is one of seven countries that allows euthanasia at the national level. It was the second country to allow the practice in 2002, joining the Netherlands, which began allowing euthanasia earlier that year. Since then, Luxembourg, Colombia, Canada, Spain and New Zealand have passed laws allowing euthanasia.
Euthanasia is illegal in the United States, where patients are allowed to refuse medical treatment and can give consent to withdraw life support. Some U.S. states do, however, permit physician-assisted suicide under certain circumstances.
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Belgium and the Netherlands are more permissive with euthanasia than other countries where the practice is legal, allowing patients who suffer from mental illness to choose to be euthanized.
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The De Corte euthanasia was approved by two psychiatrists earlier this year after she struggled for years with anxiety and depression. She attempted suicide in 2018 and 2020, and regularly posted to social media about her struggles with mental health.
“I get a few medications for breakfast. And up to 11 antidepressants a day. I couldn’t live without it,” she wrote in one post. “With all the medications I take, I feel like a ghost that can’t feel anything anymore. Maybe there were other solutions than medications.”
But not everyone was convinced that euthanasia was the only choice for De Corte, with prosecutors opening an investigation into the case after a neurologist at the UZC Brugman academic clinical hospital in Brussels raised concerns about the decision and argued it “was made prematurely.”
Despite those concerns, De Corte was euthanized in May of this year, taking to social media one last time to document her feelings.
“I was laughing and crying. Until the last day. I loved and was allowed to feel what true love is,” she posted. “Now I will go away in peace. Know that I miss you already.”