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Australian scientist gives last public thoughts before Swiss euthanasia ends his life

Sunday, May 13th, 2018

Zurich: A 104-year-old Australian scientist who travelled to Switzerland to end his life has said he is not without regrets but is “happy” to have the chance to end his life.

Ecologist Proffesor David Goodall, who is not terminally ill, told a news conference in Switzerland that he was ready for the end. He said he chose Switzerland as that country’s liberal assisted suicide laws let him commit suicide legally, in contrast to Australia where it remains outlawed.

Ecologist David Goodall sings Beethoven’s 9th symphony on his last day.

Professor Goodall, a member of the Order of Australia, responded to reporters’ questions in the Swiss city of Basel while accompanied by members of euthanasia groups including Philip Nitschke, founder of Exit International.

He understood that his death, planned for Thursday, would be by lethal injection, though he did not know what time it would take place nor many details about the procedure. Some family members would be present, he said.

“One should be free to choose the death, when death is at an appropriate time,” said Professor Goodall, who wore a jumper cardigan bearing the words “Aging Disgracefully”.

David Goodall, 104, is not terminally ill but says his body is failing him.

Photo: AP

“My abilities have been in decline over the past year or two, my eyesight over the past six years. I no longer want to continue this life. I’m happy to have the chance tomorrow to end it.”

Assisted suicide has been legal in Switzerland since the 1940s, if performed by someone with no direct interest in the death. The Netherlands legalised euthanasia in 2002 for patients considered to be suffering unbearable pain with no available cure.

A Swiss doctor had to determine if Professor Goodall was of sound mind before he could undergo assisted suicide.

In lots of countries, though, physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia is illegal.

Professor Goodall farewells his grandson at Perth Airport before leaving Australia.

Photo: AAP

Australia has forbidden such practices, although Victoria, last November, became the first state to pass a euthanasia bill to allow terminally ill patients to end their lives. It takes effect in June of 2019.

Professor Goodall was born in London in 1914 and moved to Australia in 1948. An expert in arid shrublands, he was a lecturer at the University of Melbourne, worked in Britain and held academic posts at USA universities.

While visibly straining to hear questions, Professor Goodall answered them clearly and in detail after they were repeated using a microphone.

He said he felt a “sense of pressure”, given media attention on his end-of-life journey to Switzerland.

“I don’t feel that anyone else’s choice is involved,” he said. “It’s my own choice to end my life tomorrow.”

Professor Goodall said he had not given much thought to a last meal, as he said his culinary choices had grown quite limited.

He had not contemplated music to accompany his passing, but thought Beethoven’s 9th Symphony may be good, he said, before singing a few notes.

Professor Goodall said he was not without regrets: “There are many things I would like to do, but it’s too late. I’m content to leave them undone.”

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Henry Sapiecha

Young people opt for euthanasia drug as overall number of suicide deaths grows in Australia

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

nebutol suicide substance image www.newcures.info

More Australians are taking their own lives with a drug recommended by euthanasia groups, including people aged in their teens, 20s and 30s.

New data from the national coronial information system shows 120 people died by taking Nembutal – dubbed the “peaceful pill” – between July 2000 and December 2012.

The number of deaths from the drug reached a high of 24 in 2011, compared with nine in 2001. In 2012, there were 17 deaths. However, there may be more as the data obtained by Fairfax Media does not include cases before the coroner.

Voluntary euthanasia campaigners say the actual number of Nembutal deaths is even higher, as many deaths are not reported to the coroner and people who use the drug to take their lives take steps to make it look like the death is of natural causes.
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The deaths included one person under the age of 20, 11 people in their 20s and 14 people in their 30s.

People aged over 60 made up more than half of the deaths in the same period.

There has also been the biggest increase in Nembutal deaths in this age group.

Euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke said the figures reflected that the drug was getting easier to obtain and was displacing some more violent methods.

He said the fact younger people were accessing the drug should be balanced against “the very large number of people who get immense comfort from knowing they have a safety net in place”.

Dr Nitschke said he was facing 12 complaints to the Medical Board of Australia over the involvement of his organisation, Exit International, in several deaths over the past decade.

Last week, the Northern Territory Supreme Court found the board acted unlawfully in using emergency powers to suspend Dr Nitschke’s medical licence.

The full case against him will be heard in November.

Dying with Dignity Victoria vice-president Rodney Syme said some of the deaths in younger age brackets could have involved people with incurable diseases who had obtained the drug.

“Intolerable and unrelievable suffering is not confined by age,” he said.

Dr Syme, who has been obtaining Nembutal for terminally ill patients for more than 20 years, said he once handed the drug to a 30-year-old woman with incurable brain cancer, although the woman never used it and died four years later in palliative care.

In Australia, Nembutal is used by vets to euthanise animals.

The coroner’s figures show that while in most cases the means of obtaining the drug were unknown, 20 people obtained the drug from overseas and 22 from a workplace.

Paul Russell of HOPE, an organisation devoted to preventing euthanasia and assisted suicide, said the data was concerning and something suicide prevention organisations should be heeding.

“We need to find more effective ways of helping people [who] are feeling desperate from going to these clandestine organisations,” he said.

Over the past 10 years, Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show there have been 2300 suicides a year on average, with people under 30 making up 22 per cent of all deaths.

For help or information, contact:

Lifeline 131 114

beyondblue 1300 224 636

SuicideLine 1300 651 251

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Henry Sapiecha