David Goodall's story forces us to confront uncomfortable truths

104yo David Goodall at home

David Goodall says thinking about death doesn't make him sad

Goodall died in a clinic Life Circle in Basel, after the introduction of a special drug under medical supervision.

He could not end his life in Australia, where assisted suicide is not legal, so took a one-way ticket from Perth to France last week to see relatives before arriving in Switzerland, where it is permitted.

"My entire life was out in the area (doing work), however that I cannot move from the industry now", said Goodall, who needs a wheel chair and also walking frame to go about, during a meeting in his Basel hotel.

In the U.S., OR led the way in legalizing assisted suicide.

Mr Goodall's last meal was his favourite - fish and chips and cheesecake - and in his final minutes he was played Ode to Joy from Beethoven's 9th symphony. "It's my own choice to end my life tomorrow and I look forward to that and I'm grateful to the Swiss nation to make that possible", he added, expressing optimism his story will help forward the cause he was so passionate about.

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 worldwide headlines and further inflamed a highly divisive debate.

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.

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Professor Goodall attempted to take his life in the months before departing for Switzerland.

Instead, he wanted his body donated to science, or if not, he wished for his ashes to be sprinkled locally. To the very end, David's mind was active and focussed.

"What is the age at which we no longer celebrate people continuing life?" He would not have met the criteria for assisting dying laws for the terminally ill recently passed in Victoria and under consideration in other states.

Assisted suicide describes any act that intentionally helps another person kill themselves, for example by providing them with the means to do so, most commonly by prescribing a lethal medication.

Goodall was an honorary research associate at Edith Cowan University in Perth, and was the editor-in-chief of the multi-volume Ecosystems of the World in 1979.

Several countries allow assisted suicide, including Belgium, Canada, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

"At my age, and even at rather less than my age, one wants to be free to choose the death and when the death is the appropriate time", he said.

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