David Goodall: Scientist, 104, ends his life in Switzerland

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A 104-year-old Australian scientist who travelled to Switzerland to end his life committed assisted suicide, a Swiss foundation said on Thursday.

"I have serious concerns about a community where we make arbitrary decisions about whose life is valuable enough to continue and whose should be ended under the law", he added.

British-born David Goodall, who was not terminally ill, personally triggered a lethal dose of a barbiturate and died at 1030 GMT in a clinic near Basel, the assisted suicide group Exit International said.

"If I had been asked to provide my own comments on David Goodall, I would have said he is perceptive, brilliant and inventive", said Robert Russon, a 30-year professor at the Logan school in a letter to the Herald Journal newspaper.

"All the publicity that this has been receiving can only, I think, help the cause of euthanasia for the elderly, which I want".

He was accompanied to the Basel clinic of Swiss assisted-dying organisation Life Circle by Dr Philip Nitschke, founder of Australian right-to-die group Exit International.

In his final hours, Professor Goodall enjoyed his favourite dinner: fish and chips and cheesecake.

While increasingly feeble and unable to live as he once did, Goodall is not sick.

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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.

In 2016, aged 102, he won a battle to keep working on campus at Perth's Edith Cowan University, where he was an unpaid honorary research associate.

Mr Goodall arrived in Basel on Monday after visiting relatives in France, and spent his final full day exploring the Basel University botanic gardens with three of his grandchildren.

He appeared bemused by the public interest.

"At my age, or less than my age, one wants to be free to choose the death when the death is at an appropriate time".

"What is the age at which we no longer celebrate people continuing life?"

Exit International said Goodall had requested that his body be donated to medicine, or his ashes sprinkled locally.

The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg permit euthanasia and assisted suicide. The laws differ for euthanasia, in which a doctor actively administers a lethal drug, than for assisted suicide, which require the participants to take a type of active measure, like taking pills themselves.

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