Australian scientist David Goodall ends his life at Swiss clinic

Erika Holt
May 11, 2018

Goodall ate a final meal of fish and chips and cheesecake before dying.

During the last minutes of his life, the respected scientist requested to listen to "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's Symphony No. 9.

With his grandson Daniel and a longtime nurse, Carol O'Neil, at his side, the renowned botanist and ecologist from Perth, Australia, entered the Lifecircle assisted-suicide center in Switzerland and began the final stage of the process by receiving a fatal dose of barbiturates.

Goodall "died peacefully" in Basel, tweeted Nitschke, of Exit International, the organisation which helped Goodall take his own life.

Dr Goodall was asked to say his name, his date of birth and why he was at the clinic.

Dr Goodall said that he would have preferred to end his life in Australia, but he wasn't permitted to do so because he wasn't terminally ill. The grandfather of 12 wanted "no funeral, no remembrance service or ceremony", Exit International noted.

Goodall's home state of Western Australia is now debating whether to introduce the policy. His case caused controversy in Australia, with doctors in Perth at one point threatening to stop him flying to Switzerland. Goodall argued that other countries should legalize the procedure so people in very poor health, as well as those who are ready to die, don't have to travel to Switzerland.

The day before his death, Dr Goodall attended a press conference sporting a jumper bearing the words "Ageing disgracefully".

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Goodall said he thought it was time for him to die. "But I would accept that it should be done by doctors" prescription - but they should be free to prescribe'.

"I have been surprised that there has been such wide interest in my case."

"I'm looking forward to it", he said of his imminent death. "And a person should not be forced to leave home to achieve it".

"I would love to be able to walk into the bush again, and see what is all around me", added the father of four, who during his long life had three wives. However, his story forces us to confront uncomfortable issues surrounding death and dying and the genuine fear that many ill and elderly people hold as they approach the end of their lives.

"I think what he is doing is incredibly courageous".

"I have serious concerns about a community where we make arbitrary decisions about whose life is valuable enough to continue and whose should be ended under the law".

Still academically active in his later years, Goodall became an honorary research associate at Edith Cowan University, where he continued to review, edit and publish papers, as well as co-supervise botany students.

After his retirement in 1979, Goodall edited a 30-volume series of books called "Ecosystems of the World", written by more than 500 authors.

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