104-year-old scientist ends his life at Swiss clinic

British-born David Goodall, who was not terminally ill, personally triggered a lethal dose of a barbiturate and died at 1030 GMT in a clinic near Basel, the assisted suicide group Exit International said.

Overnight a press conference was called, with reporters from around the world packed into the small hotel room where Dr Goodall had been spending his final days.

Asked if he had any doubts, even fleeting, he said, "None whatsoever".

He said he hopes his story will encourage lawmakers to consider legislation that will allow others like him to make their own decisions about death.

During his final news conference on Wednesday, Goodall could scarcely contain his glee and broke into a song for reporters. He later arrived in Switzerland, where a clinic has accepted his application for assisted dying.

"No, I'm not happy", he said. I eat breakfast. And then I just sit until lunchtime. "But other countries lag behind Switzerland".

Assisted suicide has been banned in Australia, so Goodall boarded a plane last week and traveled more than 8,000 miles to Basel, a city in Switzerland near the French and German borders.

According to his daughter Karen, Goodall's inability to complete basic tasks by himself contributed to his desire to die by assisted suicide, since he felt that he had lost his dignity and self-respect.

He also said that his family supported his decision and that none of them had tried to change his mind.

In his final public appearance, he said he was surprised by the interest in his case.

Switzerland is one of the world's most permissive countries when it comes to assisted suicide.

In the U.S., assisted suicide is legal in Oregon, Vermont, Washington, California, Colorado, Hawaii and Washington, D.C. In Montana, a court decision is required to resort to this option. "All the publicity that this has been receiving can only, I think, help the cause of euthanasia for the elderly, which I want". It doesn't exclude foreigners and gives patients the option to end their life if they have psychological or physical problems associated with age.

The story of the academic, who is one of the first Australians to undertake the procedure due to old age rather than a terminal illness, attracted worldwide headlines and further inflamed a highly divisive debate.

Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland but is criticised by many people including a large number of doctors who say it should be reserved for people who are terminally ill.

"I am glad to have the chance [to die] but would have preferred to have had it in Australia", he said. After a failed solo suicide attempt in Australia, Goodall was able to secure a fast-track assisted voluntary death (AVD) appointment in Switzerland with the help of Exit International, a foundation that provides aid to assisted-suicide seekers, and Life Circle, an assisted suicide advocacy group.

An honorary research associate at Perth's Edith Cowan University, Mr Goodall has produced dozens of research papers and until recently continued to review and edit for different ecology journals. In 2016, at 102, the university ordered him to leave his office, calling him a safety risk to himself. The incident sparked global discussion about the treatment of elderly workers, and the university subsequently reversed its decision.

"I'm looking forward to it", he said of his imminent death.

  • Rogelio Becker