Wednesday, 15 August 2018

How David Goodall spent his final few hours before voluntarily taking his own life

How David Goodall spent his final few hours before voluntarily taking his own life
10 May

BELOVED Professor David Goodall has voluntarily ended his own life, after making his final preparations and saying goodbye to family.

The Australian scientist has long advocated for voluntary euthanasia but had to fly to Basel in Switzerland to actually proceed with the much-debated scheme.

Prof Goodall flew from his home in Perth last week, saying an emotional goodbye to much of his Australian family including his grand and great grand children.

After flying out of Perth, the British-born professor spent some time in France to visit more family before arriving in Basel, Switzerland, the place the 104-year-old ended his life.

Prof Goodall’s assisted voluntary death was done by Eternal Spirit, a branch of the Swiss clinic Life Circle, which is committed to promoting the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia.

The clinic has helped 73 people voluntarily die in the past year.

In 2015, 967 people chose to end their life in Switzerland, one of the few countries where foreigners can opt to end their life.

Before the professor even arrived in Basel, he was required to submit an application to Life Circle detailing why he wanted to voluntarily die.

The 104-year-old then met with two Swiss doctors on two separate occasions to clarify if his decision to die met their guidelines.

He was also required to meet with a psychiatrist yesterday to determine he was of sound body and mind.

After being given the final OK by a Swiss doctor, the 104-year-old was able to book in for his own death.

Today, the professor would have signed a final form, once again approving his wish to die.

On Thursday night (AEST time), surrounded by four family members and a close friend, Mr Goodall first took a drug to prevent him from vomiting.

Most Swiss foundations ask patients to drink a lethal cocktail of medication, but because it burns when swallowed, Eternal Spirit has instead opted to administer the sedative through intravenous infusions.

A professional prepares the needle, but it is up to the patient to open the valve that allows the short-acting barbiturate to mix with a saline solution and begin flowing into their vein.

The professor was reportedly filmed while he took the drug, cited by Life Circle as “the only reliable evidence he or she has executed the application by themselves and in full awareness”.

Within a few minutes of taking the drug, the 104-year-old fell asleep and died within half an hour.

After his death, Mr Goodall’s friend were asked to call the police and report an extraordinary death — a requirement of Swiss law.

The authorities then release Mr Goodall’s body to the family and a funeral service will be held.

Depending on Mr Goodall’s final wishes, he will then either be buried or cremated.


In a final press conference on Wednesday, Mr Goodall was asked by reporters if he had a song in mind for his final moments.

He sung them a few bars from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in response.

The professor’s quality of life has deteriorated over the past few years and the 104-year-old attempted to take his own life at least three times before deciding to get professional help.

Before his press conference on Wednesday, Mr Goodall spent his second last day touring the Basel University Botanical Gardens with three of his grandchildren.

“I feel very privileged that I will be able to be there when my grandfather passes away,” Mr Goodall’s 30-year-old grandson Daniel told the Daily Mail.

“He is so brave and I am so glad that he has been able to make his own choice.

“It is his wish that he can end his life, but such a shame that he was not allowed to do it in his own country,” he said.

Another of the botanist’s grandchildren, Duncan, 36, also told the publication he would be by his grandfather’s side when he passes away.

“I think what he is doing is incredibly brave. My grandfather has approached this in a completely rational way and not let any emotion get in the way.

“He wants to die and he wants to die on his own terms. The fact that he is doing this so publicly shows how brave he is,” he said.

Victoria is the only state or territory to have legalised voluntary euthanasia in Australia.

The legislation was passed after a heated three-day debate in parliament that ended with politicians making the scheme available only to terminally ill Victorians with less than six months to live.

Despite the passing of the bill, the law won’t come into effect until the middle of 2019.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.


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