The 104-year-old man who planned to take his life in an assisted suicide in Switzerland at a euthanasia clinic has reportedly killed himself. David Goodall swallowed the lethal cocktail of chemicals at the Swiss clinic today.
Goodall, a world-renowned botanist, reportedly died at 10am on Thursday in a euthanasia clinic at an undisclosed location. He and his family are using his highly publicized cases to push assisted suicide worldiwde.
Goodall did not have a terminal illness but said his quality of life had deteriorated significantly and that he wanted to die. Assisted suicide was supposed to be meant for people who have lethal medical conditions or are in significant pain but Goodall’s case is another example of how healthy people are killing themselves. Assisted suicide has also led to euthanasia — where legalized and elderly, disabled people, and mentally ill people are being euthanized against their will.
Philip Nitschke, founder of Exit International, the euthanasia organization which helped Goodall kill himself, said his death occurred at 1030 GMT from an infusion of Nembutal, a barbiturate. He claims Goodall “died peacefully.”
But other reports appear to contradict that and highlighted one of the many problems associated with assisted suicide.
“This is taking an awful long time,” Goodall reportedly complained about the actual death process. He was unable to manually start the lethal drug process and had to begin anew with a confirmation he wanted to take his life.
He seemed anxious to kill himself and asked, “What are we waiting for?” as forms were completed before the death procedure began.
As requested, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy played on an iPad and family members wept as he died minutes after ingesting the lethal cocktail.
Nitschke, from pro-euthanasia Group Exit International, said : It is the first time I have heard someone say its taking a long time when the drug is intravenous, but David was quite impatient for it to be over.’
Before the drug was administered, Dr Goodallwas asked four questions by a doctor overseeing the procedure.
Dr Goodall was asked to say his name, his date of birth and why he was at the clinic. On the final question he was asked what would happen to him, he replied quickly: ‘I hope my heart stops.’
There was a slight hitch in the procedure when the frail 104-year-old was unable to operate a wheel that would send the lethal drug into his body.
He could not twist the wheel and so doctors gave him a switch to flick and send the Nembutal coursing through his body.
As soon as the switch was flicked, Ode to Joy began playing in the room. Dr Goodall closed his eyes and was certified dead by a doctor.
Dr Nitschke added: He was a little impatient and just wanted to get on with it, but in the end he did get his wish.
Goodall, a distinguished ecologist who retired in 1979, is frail but not terminally ill. Hence, he is not eligible to move to the Australian state of Victoria to die there under its new euthanasia legislation.
A long-time member of Philip Nitschke’s Exit International organisation, Dr Goodall was able to find support for his request for assisted suicide overseas. A GoFundMe campaign organised by Dr Nitschke raised enough money to finance a business class flight to Basel. He will die there with the help of Dr Erica Preisig, the head of lifecircle, a splinter group from the better-known organisation Dignitas.
“I greatly regret having reached that age,” he said upon reaching his 104th birthday. “I’m not happy. I want to die. It’s not sad particularly. What is sad is if one is prevented. My feeling is that an old person like myself should have full citizenship rights including the right of assisted suicide.”
Although Dr Goodall is healthy enough, considering his age, he did not seem well supported in day-to-day life. Although the extensive media coverage about his decision focused on airport hugs from his grandsons, none of his family accompanied him on his trip to Switzerland. Instead, his travelling companion was the West Australian coordinator of Exit.
The turning point for him seemed to be a fall in his one-bedroom flat. Although he did not break any bones, he was unable to get up from the floor and remained there for two days.