Euthanasia advocate David Good took one more swipe at Australian authorities in a bitter-sweet letter published during memorial service on Saturday.
The English-born Australian died in May after flying to Switzerland to end his life on his own terms. Although the revered scientist wasn’t sick, he made clear that at the ripe 104, he had lived long enough and wanted to die his own way without the suffering that so often comes at the end.
Goodall made clear before his death that he wanted his story to trigger a conversation about euthanasia in Australia, and hoped the government would listen to those like him who want the right to die on their own terms.
Now, in an open letter written by Goodall and distributed by Philip Nitschke, founder of pro-euthanasia group Exit International, on the day of his memorial, the Aussie scientist has addressed his “fellow Australians” and urged the government to change its views of assisted suicide.
“I would have preferred to end my days in Australia, the country of my adoption,” he wrote.
“Unfortunately, the dominant forces in the medical profession have exerted every effort to thwart any attempt at independent actions by the elderly in ending their lives,” he wrote.
“Luckily, the medical profession in Switzerland have a more enlightened view, and so I am travelling there – a beautiful country but not my own.”
The open letter isn’t Goodall’s only message from beyond the grave. A documentary about his final journey to Switzerland is set to air on ABC’s Foreign Correspondent in July and features interviews with some of his closest family members – who overcame their own concerns to support him to the end.
Goodall’s three grandchildren, who accompanied him to the Circle of Life clinic in Basal, feature in the doco, and say they still struggle to come to terms with his death.
“I still have a visceral reaction to it when I think about it,” Duncan Goodall, David’s grandson, says on the show. “Having someone take their own life is repellent to me. But when you think it through and you sort of rationalise it, it makes sense.”
The ABC’s Charlotte Hamlyn joined David and the family on his final journey, filming him as he travelled from Perth to France and finally to Switzerland. Once there, the show follows the family as they make final preparations for him to end his life, including getting the necessary drugs.
“He could have excluded the media in a way that was good and comfortable for him. Instead he made a very difficult choice to bring everyone in and make sacrifices and change things for the better,” Duncan adds.
Goodall, who had no terminal illness but had said that he felt he had lived longer than he wished, tried to take his own life at least three times before seeking pro-euthanasia group Exit International’s practical assistance. The group went on to successfully raise enough funds through donations for him to travel business-class.
“Up to even the age of 90 I was enjoying life – but not now,” he tells reporter Hamlyn on the documentary.
“You don’t change his mind,” his daughter-in-law, Hana Goodall, adds to the ABC. “He always thinks in a different way and it’s a destiny of an unusual man to make an unusual decision.”
If you feel depressed and need to talk to someone, Lifeline is available 24 hours a day on 13 11 14 or at lifeline.org.au. You can also call the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.