David Goodall: How Australia's Oldest Scientist Ended His Own Life Aged 104

David Goodall in Liestal Switzerland

Philip Nitschke, founder of right-to-die group Exit International, said Prof Goodall showed humour and a twinge of impatience in his final moments as formalities were tended to, uttering the last words: "This is taking a long time".

Goodall, a member of the Order of Australia for work as a botanist that included publications on arid shrublands, said he had unsuccessfully tried to kill himself in Australia after his faculties including his hearing deteriorated.

Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, where the procedure is available for anyone who acknowledges in writing that they are taking their lives willingly - without being forced.

He also said he regretted that he had to travel all the way to Switzerland commit suicide.

"I no longer want to continue life", he said.

Scientist David Goodall has ended his life overnight surrounded by family and friends in Switzerland, aged 104. It takes effect in June 2019.

"During the paperwork, he said 'what are we waiting for?'"

Goodall's last meal was fish and chips, Reuters reports, but the scientist said he hasn't been able to truly enjoy his meals like he used to.

"David Goodall is exactly the sort of member that Exit is made of and is proud of", Dr. Nitschke said in a statement, adding: "It was a wonderful experience to know him and be so intimately involved in his final weeks of life".

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Exit International, which represented the scientist, said Goodall passed away while listening to Beethoven's "Ode to Joy".

There, news of his death prompted debate over his legacy, with some former colleagues suggesting his public suicide fit a personality that did not shy the limelight.

The Swiss Academy of Medical Science said this year that the right to die should be extended to those who are not terminally ill but live with intolerable pain.

"The message I would like to send is: once one passes the age of 50 or 60, one should be free to decide for oneself whether one wants to go on living or not", he said, the Swiss News Agency, SDA-ATS reported.

"My life has been rather poor for the past year or so, and I am very happy to end it", he told reporters before his death.

He told reporters he hoped sharing his story would "increase the pressure" on Australia to change its laws about assisted suicide.

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 global headlines and further inflamed a highly divisive debate.

In the U.S., California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, Washington state and Washington, D.C., have "death with dignity" laws, according to the advocacy group Death with Dignity, although these require a person to have a terminal illness.

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