Australia’s oldest scientist ends his life through assisted suicide in Switzerland

11 May 2018

Australia’s oldest scientist ends his life through assisted suicide in Switzerland

Professor David Goodall has fulfilled his wish and ended his life at the age of 104 through an assisted suicide program in Switzerland on Thursday (local time).

The professor was surrounded by his family, including five of his grandchildren who travelled from the US and France to say their farewells.

“I’m feeling very emotional but at the same time I’m at peace,” daughter Karen Goodall-Smith told the ABC on the eve of his death.

Mr Goodall held a press conference on Wednesday where he was received by a room packed with international reporters. He said he had no hesitations about his decision, “none, whatsoever.”

Dr Philip Nitschke, the founder of the euthanasia advocacy group Exit International, said that Mr Goodall’s case is unprecedented because despite being old, the professor was ultimately healthy and had no terminal illness.

Yet he expressed that allowing geriatrics to choose how they end their life is a concept that should be more widely accepted.

“You’ve got a situation now where a person is being told what they can and cannot do and they’re simply trying to exercise what they see as an absolute right to be able to put an end to their life,” Dr Nitschke said.

“This is an eminent and proud Australian. The fact that we are now, in a sense, forcing him to a foreign country to die, because this is what he really wants and passionately believes in, I think is something of an outrage.”

However there has been opposition to such a perspective, with the Australian Medical Association (AMA) saying that Mr Goodall’s case sets a “dangerous” precedent.

“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,” AMA President Michael Gannon said.

Mr Goodall had expressed that he was disappointed that he could not end his life in Australia and hoped that his decision would lead to more acceptance and legislative progress in his birth country.

104 year old Australian scientist has no hesitations in final hours before he ends his life

Professor David Goodall, Australia’s oldest scientist at 104 years of age, held a press conference in the Swiss city of Basel to discuss his plans to end his life through a voluntary assisted suicide program in Switzerland.

The end of life clinic has approved Professor Goodall’s application, following an assessment of the Professor’s mindset on Tuesday.

Professor Goodall appeared before a large crowd of international media reporters, a sight which he was surprised to see.

“I’m rather surprised at the wide interest in my case. I am very appreciative of the hospitality of the Swiss Federation and the [ability] to come to an end gracefully,” he said.

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

When he was asked whether he had any hesitations about ending his life, he responded: “No, none whatsoever.”

“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.”

Professor Goodall said he had no particular song he has selected, but said that if he did it would have been Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.

He then broke into a song, which was received by a warm applause.

On what he would miss the most, Professor Goodall said he would miss journeying into the Australian countryside.

“I would like to go back to … my favourite area, the Kimberley.”

Professor Goodall’s physical condition and quality of life has continued to deteriorate, causing him to attempt to take his own life in the past 12 months. It was after the ordeal that he decided to travel to Switzerland where euthanasia is legal.

“I certainly hope my story will increase the pressure for people to have more liberal view on the subject [of voluntary euthanasia]. I think there probably will be a step in the right direction.”

The Professor said he plans to die on Thursday surrounded by “one or two” family members.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact:

  • Lifeline on 13 11 14.
  • Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.
  • MensLine Australia on 1300 78 99 78.
  • Multicultural Mental Health Australia at
  • Local Aboriginal Medical Service from