Australian, 104, dies in assisted suicide in Switzerland


LIESTAL, Switzerland (AP) — A 104-year-old Australian biologist who drew international attention to his right-to-die case ended his life in Switzerland today, an advocacy group said.

Philip Nitschke, director of Exit International, said David Goodall was declared dead at 12:30 p.m. in Liestal, a town outside the city of Basel, where he had traveled to take advantage of Switzerland's assisted-suicide laws.

"My life has been rather poor for the last year or so. And I'm very happy to end it," Goodall said today in the room where he later died.

The British-born scientist 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. Goodall's supporters want the practice to be more accepted as a legitimate choice for elderly people in sound mind.

Hundreds of people – some far more frail than Goodall, who used a wheelchair – travel to Switzerland every year to take their lives. The best-known group to help foreigners end their days in the Alpine country is Dignitas, but others include Life Circle in Basel, Goodall's choice.

Goodall took his life with an intravenous drip of pentobarbital, a chemical often used as an anesthetic but which is lethal in excessive doses. A doctor put a cannula in his arm, and Goodall turned a wheel to allow the solution to flow, Exit International said.

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