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British-born scientist, 104, dies in assisted suicide in Switzerland

Biologist David Goodall was declared dead on Thursday, said Exit International director Philipp Nitschke.


Australian David Goodall in Switzerland (Philipp Jenne/AP)

Australian David Goodall in Switzerland (Philipp Jenne/AP)

Australian David Goodall in Switzerland (Philipp Jenne/AP)

A 104-year-old British-born scientist has ended his life in Switzerland, a right-to-die group said.

Australian biologist David Goodall was declared dead at 12.30pm on Thursday, Exit International director Philipp Nitschke said.

Mr Goodall had travelled to Switzerland to take advantage of the country’s assisted suicide laws.

The scientist, described by Exit International as its first member, said this week that he had been contemplating the idea of suicide for about 20 years, but only started thinking about it for himself after his quality of life deteriorated over the last year.

He cited a lack of mobility, doctor’s restrictions and an Australian law prohibiting him from taking his own life among his complaints, but he was not ill.

Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland but frowned upon by many doctors and some others who say it should be reserved for the terminally ill.

Mr Goodall’s supporters want the practice to be more accepted as a legitimate choice for elderly people of sound mind.

Hundreds of people – some far more frail than Mr Goodall, who used a wheelchair – travel to Switzerland every year to take their lives.

The best-known group to help foreigners end their lives in the Alpine country is Dignitas, but others include Life Circle in Basel, Mr Goodall’s choice.

Speaking on Thursday in the room where he later died, Mr Goodall said: “My life has been rather poor for the last year or so. And I’m very happy to end it.”

Mr Nitschke said that before he died, Mr Goodall had to answer “several questions so he knew who he was, where he was and what he was about to do”.

“He answered those questions with great clarity, activated the process” while music played in the background, he added.