ZURICH (Reuters) – A 104-year-old Australian scientist killed himself on Thursday in Switzerland by a lethal injection of assisted suicide, which he hoped would trigger milder euthanasia laws in his home country.
Born in England, David Goodall, who was not terminally ill, personally triggered a lethal dose of barbiturate and died at 1030 GMT in a clinic near Basel, the assisted suicide group said.
Goodall, a member of the Australian Order for his work as a botanist who included publications on dry scrubland, said he had unsuccessfully attempted to kill himself in Australia after his skills, including his hearing, had worsened.
He came to Switzerland because of his laws, which have made assisted suicide legal since the 1
"My life has been pretty bad for the past year or so and I am very happy to finish it," Goodall told reporters on Thursday, shortly before his death. "All the publicity that this has received, in my opinion, can only help the euthanasia for older people I want."
Doctor-assisted suicide or euthanasia remains illegal in many countries, including Australia, although the state of Victoria was the first to issue an euthanasia bill last November to enable terminally ill patients to end their lives. It comes into force in June 2019.
Several family members were at Goodall's until his death, preceded by formal papers that clearly frustrated Goodall, who said, "What are we waiting for?"
His last meal was fish and Philip Nitschke, the director of Exit International, helped prompt a request from Goodall to organize Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, which he was to play at his death a press conference was triggered on Wednesday.
"The infusion started to drip as he activated the process – he had to do it himself – after answering questions stating who he was, where he was and what he intended to do, and he answered those questions with great clarity "said Nitschke after Goodall's death to Reuters.
"His last words were: 'This takes a terribly long time!'" Nitschke said.
Goodall, a 20-year-old member of Exit International, was born in London in 1914 and moved to Australia in 1948 where he was a lecturer at the University of Melbourne. He also worked in the UK and held academic positions at American universities, including at Utah State University in Logan.
"I did my best"
There, news of his death prompted a debate over his legacy, with some former colleagues proposing his public suicide befitting a personality who did not shy away from the limelight.
Others called Goodall a good scholar who was very popular.
"If I had been asked to give my own commentary on David Goodall, I would have said he is sharp, brilliant, and inventive," said Robert Russon, a 30-year-old professor at the Logan School, in a letter to the Herald Journal newspaper.
Before his death, Goodall said there were things he would have changed if he had to do it again.
"I am by no means satisfied with what I have done," he said. "But I did my best."