A well known botanist and ecologist, David Goodall, has decided to end his exceptionally long and full life, and will fly to Switzerland this week, where assisted dying is legal.

Born on 4 April 1914, Dr Goodall is said to be Australia’s oldest scientist.

He made international headlines at the age 102 when he refused to accept his university employer’s order that he leave his job.

The university argued that Dr Goodall was a safety risk to himself. But the academic, who was then employed as an honorary research associate, challenged the decision, and with huge public support, the order was overturned.

Dr Goodall appeared on SBS’s Insight programme at age 103, to explain why he continued to work. He played tennis until he was 90, and performed in amateur theatrical productions well into his old age.

But now, as his health worsens and his quality of life deteriorates, Dr Goodall has chosen to fly the 8,000km to Switzerland to end his own life.

“I greatly regret having reached that age. I would much prefer to be 20 or 30 years younger,” Dr Goodall told the ABC.

“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.”

Dr Goodall has been a member of euthanasia advocacy group, Exit International, for twenty years, and he told the ABC he hopes the public interest surrounding his plight will prompt more conversations about voluntary euthanasia.

Dr Goodall will travel with a representative form Exit International, which has raised $20,000 to fund his travel costs.

“Why should it make me sad?” Goodall said of his impending death. “I don’t regard it as grim, I regard it as natural.”

Dying is part of life, he said.

Victoria last year became the first Australian state to pass euthanasia law, but because Goodall is not terminally ill, he would not be eligible. The Victorian laws only become effective next year.

If you or anyone you know needs help:

PANDA on 1300 726 306

Lifeline on 13 11 14

Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800

MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978

Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467

Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36

Headspace on 1800 650 890


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