Australian scientist, 104, must prove he’s not insane to end his life

Australian scientist, 104, planning to end his life at a Swiss suicide clinic will have to prove he’s not insane or doctors won’t let him kill himself

  • Dr David Goodall must be judged to be of sound mind before he can end his life 
  • Doctors must agree he is 100 per cent clear on his wishes before going ahead
  • Dr Goodall does not have a terminal illness, but is seeking voluntary euthanasia

Australia’s oldest scientist and renowned academic David Goodall, must be judged to be of sound mind before he can end his life with a voluntary assisted dying program in Switzerland next week.

However, the end of life procedure will only go ahead once two doctors agree he is 100 per cent clear on his wishes, founder of the Lifecycle clinic doctor Erika Preisig said. 

The eminent botanist and ecologist does not have a terminal illness, but is seeking voluntary euthanasia – which is illegal in Australia – on the grounds his quality of life has deteriorated.

Dr Goodall celebrated his 104th birthday in early April and has since decided it is time to access voluntarily euthanasia in Switzerland 

The 104-year-old got on a plane in Perth last Wednesday surrounded by friends and family saying their final goodbyes, including his grandson Matt (pictured)

The Swiss clinic has helped 73 people to die over the past year.

Professor Goodall doesn’t have a terminal illness but says his quality of life has deteriorated at age 104. 

He attempted suicide about two months ago after suffering a fall, an incident that ended up in hospital.

Professor Goodall’s daughter could only get him out after arranging an independent psychiatric review, Exit International founder doctor Philip Nitschke said.

The scientist then decided it was time for him to die, Dr Nitschke said. 

Dr Goodall’s grandson, Matt Goodall (far left) on his grandfather’s 104th birthday, is pictured alongside his mother Karen and brother Graham

‘I no longer find much joy in life. Up to, even up to, say, the age of 90 I was enjoying life. But not now,’ Professor Goodall told the ABC.

Dr David Goodall arrived at Perth airport to board a flight to Switzerland to end his life wearing a jumper that read ‘Ageing Disgracefully’

Goodall worked at Perth’s Edith Cowan University, and said he had become resentful about having to go abroad to die due to the absence of voluntary euthanasia laws in Australia.

There were a few tears but most of the friends and family who gathered to farewell the 104-year-old at Perth Airport on Wednesday said they had prepared themselves to say goodbye.

From his wheelchair, he hugged them all in turn, thanked them and wished them a wonderful life before he and his nurse boarded the plane.

Doctors who initially treated him had threatened to prevent him from leaving Australia but he ultimately left the country unhindered.

A crowdfunding effort from Exit International, a euthanasia advocacy group, raised almost $US20,000 to cover Goodall’s travel costs, including two business class tickets for him and his nurse.

Professor Goodall is currently being assisted by an organisation in Basel with the help of Dr Nitschke.

He flew to France on Wednesday to visit family, with the procedure planned to take place in Switzerland on May 10.

Those who are seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Who is Australia’s oldest scientist David Goodall?


Dr Goodall was born in London in 1914, and is an eminent botanist and ecologist.

He came to Australia to in 1948, taking up a lecturing position at the University of Melbourne.

Goodall, an honorary research associate at Perth’s Edith Cowan University, made international headlines in 2016 when he was declared unfit to be on campus.

Dr Goodall celebrated his 104th birthday in early April and has since decided it is time to access voluntarily euthanasia in Switzerland. 


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