David stated clearly and often that he could no longer do the things he wanted. Because his eyesight was going, he could no longer undertake his ecology field research in the Australian bush. The efforts of his university two years prior to ban him from the campus because he was a ‘danger to himself’ had caused him great distress (see: http://bit.ly/DavidBBC). A world renowned ecologist, David saw his ability to do meaningful work - to write academic papers and supervise doctoral students - slipping away.
Like so many others, however, what David feared most was being institutionalized. He had recently had a fall at home. One more mishap could well see him confined in a nursing home. This, he said, was not how he wanted to see out his final days. Instead, David Goodall took matters into his own hands.
One should be free to use the rest of one’s life as one chooses ... If one chooses to kill oneself, then that’s fair enough. I don’t think anyone else should interfere.
David’s press conference in Basel was live-streamed by the international news wires Associated Press (AP) and Agence France Presse (AFP) and attended by journalists from all over the world.
In terms of David’s actual death, it is now well known that soon after starting the intravenous Nembutal infusion, he opened his eyes to exclaim ‘this is taking an awfully long time’. As he lay listening to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, he gave one last cough before falling into a deep, permanent sleep. In fact, the Nembutal worked very quickly. David’s death happened within minutes.
Soon afer he died, two Swiss policemen arrived at the clinic. One in his 20s the other in his late 50s. Both were rather surly.