David Goodall, Noted Ecologist, Ends Life At 104 With Help From Right-To-Die Group Exit International

The lauded scientist had traveled to an assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland on Monday and died 'peacefully' earlier this morning.

104-year-old Australian scientist David Goodall sits in a wheelchair in Basel, Switzerland, on May 8.
Jamey Keaten / AP Images

The lauded scientist had traveled to an assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland on Monday and died 'peacefully' earlier this morning.

Renowned ecologist and botanist Prof. David Goodall died today at the Life Cycle clinic in Basel, Switzerland, announced the right-to-die organization Exit International. Born in London in April 1914, the reputed scientist elected to end his own life at the age of 104 and traveled to the Swiss clinic earlier this week to prepare for his final moments.

Goodall opted to receive a lethal injection of the barbiturate Nembutal, administered under medical guidance, and died “peacefully” at 12:30 a.m. (10:30 a.m. GMT), said Philip Nitschke, founder of the Exit International group that helped the 104-year-old scientist end his life.

During the last minutes of his life, the respected scientist requested to listen to “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Present at the death of the acclaimed professor, Nitschke said that the 104-year-old scientist passed away at the exact time the song ended.

His final wish was for his body to be either donated to medicine or cremated and the ashes “sprinkled locally,” the right-to-die organization revealed. The grandfather of 12 wanted “no funeral, no remembrance service or ceremony,” Exit International noted.

Goodall arrived at the clinic on Monday and spent the day exploring the Basel University botanic gardens with three of his grandchildren. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the longtime member of the pro-euthanasia group Exit International talked with reporters about his particular case and why he was choosing to end his long life.

“One wants to, at my age, even rather less than my age… to be free to choose death when the death is at an appropriate time,” Goodall said during his final public appearance.

The centenarian retained his sense of humor up to the very end and even wore a top inscribed with the words “Ageing Disgracefully” during his meeting with the press on Tuesday.

Although the reputed scientist was not terminally ill, he motivated his decision to opt for assisted suicide by citing his deteriorating quality of life, reports the BBC.

According to CNN, Goodall told reporters on Tuesday that his failing mobility and eyesight were a burden to live with and disclosed that his life stopped being enjoyable “five or 10 years ago.”

The London-born scientist had been living in Australia and was forced to travel to Europe to fulfill his wishes — something which he resented having to do, the BBC reports. The singular Australian state to allow euthanasia is Victoria, but the option is legally available there only to terminally ill individuals.

Goodall’s journey from Australia to Europe attracted a lot of public attention, of which he confessed he was “rather surprised.” However, the professor said that he hoped the large mediatization of his case would lead to the legalization of assisted dying in other countries.

“I’m happy that this period beforehand has been used to interview me, and I’ve brought the ideas of euthanasia to light.”

CNN notes that the 104-year-old scientist had advocated for the legalization of assisted suicide in Australia and that his home state of Western Australia is currently debating whether to introduce the policy.