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Perth Man Cheery On Eve Of Ending His Life In Switzerland

The 104-year-old Perth man who plans to end his life in Switzerland cheerily sang a few bars of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony as he told reporters that medically assisted suicide should be more widely available.

David Goodall's approaching death has some people in the country where he came to die question if they want it to be known as the ultimate final tourist destination.

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.

Hundreds of people, many of them cancer patients, come to the small Alpine country each year to take their lives with help.

Swiss law currently allows assisted suicide for anyone who acknowledges in writing that they are taking their lives willingly - without being forced.

But Swiss critics of broader use are uncomfortable with the idea of Switzerland becoming an international hub for assisted suicide.

Ethicists at a leading Swiss medical association oppose assisted suicide for anyone besides people with terminal illnesses.

Basel City Councilwoman Annemarie Pfeifer fears that widening assisted suicide beyond the terminally ill could one day lead to "pressure" being exerted on the infirm elderly to end their lives.

Still, the medical association is contemplating whether to ease its reservations about making assisted suicide an option for anyone besides the terminally ill.

Goodall and other supporters of assisted suicide say other countries should legalise the procedure so people in very poor health as well as those who ready to die don't have to travel to Switzerland.

Prof Goodall flew from his home in Western Australia, where his daughter, son and grandchildren also live, to France last week to see relatives before arriving in Switzerland.

On Wednesday, surprised by the turnout, the centenarian told a crowded news conference that he's ready to go - possibly by lethal injection, but that he'll defer to the doctors on the method.

He quipped that if he were to choose any final music for the procedure, it might be Beethoven's Ninth Symphony - then sang a few bars in German for the cameras.

He ruled out a return to his beloved Australian countryside.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.


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