News People ‘I want to die’: David Goodall, 104, hours away from ending his life in Switzerland

‘I want to die’: David Goodall, 104, hours away from ending his life in Switzerland

104yo David Goodall at home
David Goodall says thinking about death doesn't make him sad. Photo: ABC
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In less than 24 hours, Australia’s oldest scientist will be injected with a lethal mix of drugs, closing the chapter on his 104-year life.

On Thursday (Switzerland time), Dr David Goodall will voluntarily end his life in an assisted dying clinic in Basel, in north-western Switzerland.

Dr Goodall will likely become the 45th person from Australia to have undergone euthanasia in a foreign country.

In the past 15 years, 44 Australians have travelled to Switzerland to end their lives through voluntary euthanasia, Dr Philip Nitschke, founder of euthanasia advocacy group Exit International, told The New Daily.

“There’s not going to be many people who have either the ability or the money or the willingness to go through what is quite a long and difficult journey,” Dr Nitschke said from Switzerland.

David Goodall said he made the decision because he had no other choice, as Australia does not allow assisted dying. Photo: Getty

 ‘I want to die’

Before deciding to end his life in an assisted dying clinic in Switzerland, Dr Goodall reportedly attempted suicide three different times.

After having his driver’s licence revoked at age 94, the esteemed academic and grandfather of 12 said his loss of independence made him want to die.

“At my age, I get up in the morning. I eat breakfast. And then I just sit until lunchtime. Then I have a bit of lunch and just sit. What’s the use of that?” he told CNN.

With more than 100 research papers published and three doctorates under his belt, Dr Goodall was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for his contributions to science, specifically the areas of plant ecology and natural resources management.

He continued to work well past the age of 100.

At 102, he was told to permanently vacate his office at Edith Cowan University in Perth over fears for his health and wellbeing.

But he won a battle to stay in his office. Dr Goodall would spend about 90 minutes commuting to work, including catching two buses and a train.

David Goodall at his desk
David Goodall, aged 102, working at Edith Cowan University. Photo: ABC

Earlier this year, Dr Goodall fell to the floor while alone in his one-bedroom apartment in Perth.

Unable to pull himself up, his cries for help went unanswered and he remained on the floor for two days until he was found by his cleaner.

He was rushed to hospital and despite only suffering from “one or two minor wounds” Dr Goodall was advised not to do certain things alone, like ride the bus or cross the street.

“There was basically nothing wrong,” Dr Goodall told the ABC before venturing to Switzerland.

“But I was considered incapable of looking after myself. And it upset me greatly being constrained.”

Most of his friends are deceased and combined with his inability to work, the respected academic began to feel it was time to decide on how he wanted to end his life.

“Up to the age of 90 I was enjoying life, but not now,” he said.

“It has passed me by and I have done the best I can with it.”

Scientist David Goodall working in his study in the 1950s
David Goodall works in his study in the 1950s. Photo: Karen Goodall-Smith

On his 104th birthday, Dr Goodall said: “I’m not happy. I want to die.

“I’m sorry that I have to travel to Switzerland in order to execute it.”

“I am glad to have the chance but would have preferred to have had it in Australia.”

When asked by reporters if he has any hesitation about ending his life, he replied: “No, none whatsoever.”

“I don’t feel that anyone else’s choice is involved. It’s my own choice to end my life tomorrow and I look forward to that,” he said.

“I’m glad to have the chance tomorrow to end it and I appreciate the help of the medical profession here in making that possible.

“At my age, or less than my age, one wants to be free to choose the death when the death is an appropriate time.”

‘Australian legislation is extremely restrictive’

Legislation to allow assisted dying in Victoria will come into effect mid-2019.

In Western Australia, there are ongoing debates about whether voluntary euthanasia should become legal.

Exit International’s Dr Nitschke said voluntary euthanasia laws in Australia are “extremely restrictive”.

“David Goodall would have never satisfied the criteria needed,” he said.

“Most people will try to end their lives in Australia such as David Goodall did before he elected to go to Switzerland.

“If they really want to make sure they get the best drugs and they don’t want to have a failure and they’ve got enough money and they don’t mind dying in a foreign country and they don’t want to break the law, sometimes Switzerland becomes an appealing choice.”

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.

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