British-born scientist, 104, dies in assisted suicide in Switzerland

Australian David Goodall in Switzerland (Philipp Jenne/AP) Credit: Philipp Jenne/AP

A 104-year-old British-born scientist has ended his life in Switzerland, a right-to-die group said.

Australian biologist David Goodall was declared dead at 12.30pm on Thursday, Exit International director Philipp Nitschke said.

Mr Goodall had travelled to Switzerland to take advantage of the country’s assisted suicide laws.

Mr Goodall was a world renowned scientist who produced over 100 research papers throughout a career spanning 70 years.

He sparked international outcry in 2016 when was declared "unfit" to work on campus and ordered to leave his post at Edith Cowan University, Perth, aged 102.

Speaking at a press conference before his assisted suicide, Dr Goodall said he was surprised by the amount of attention his case was receiving.

"I'm rather surprised at the wide interest in my case. I am very appreciative of the hospitality of the Swiss Federation and the [ability] to come to an end gracefully," he said.

The scientist, described by Exit International as its first member, said this week that he had been contemplating the idea of suicide for about 20 years, but only started thinking about it for himself after his quality of life deteriorated over the last year.

He cited a lack of mobility, doctor’s restrictions and an Australian law prohibiting him from taking his own life among his complaints, but he was not ill.

When asked if he has any hesitation about ending his life, he replied: "No, none whatsoever".

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

A room at an assisted suicide clinic in Basel, Switzerland, where many people choose to end their own life. Credit: AP

Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland but frowned upon by many doctors and some others who say it should be reserved for the terminally ill.

Mr Goodall's supporters want the practice to be more accepted as a legitimate choice for elderly people of sound mind.

Hundreds of people - some far more frail than Mr Goodall, who used a wheelchair - travel to Switzerland every year to take their lives.

The best-known group to help foreigners end their lives in the Alpine country is Dignitas, but others include Life Circle in Basel, Mr Goodall's choice.