Stop Social Stigmatisation: A Friend Of The Doctor Who Jumped Into Lagoon Speaks


Below is the mail addressed to Linda Ikeji Blog from the friend of a 35-year-old medical doctor, Allwell Orji, who committed suicide on Sunday, March 19th urging the Nigerian society to stop stigmatizing people with sickness.

Hi LIB, the deceased was my friend and I will like to remain anonymous please. Dr Orji was an introvert because he was a sickler and he suffered from seizure attacks thus, he preferred keeping to himself. The social stigma (from the recurrent seizure attacks) was too high for him to bear. He used a driver because the seizure can come at any time.
He wanted to do a residency in Surgery so he could become a Consultant, he wrote the exam and passed but was denied the opportunity because Hospital management felt he could not cope with the stress. He wasn’t really on social media because he was quite antisocial thus, his profile and pictures were not on the internet. So from all indications, I think it was a case of severe depression that was poorly managed thus, he felt hopeless due to his challenges and decided to end it in a Lagoon”.

Police officers at the scene where the swollen body of Dr Allwell Orji  rescued from the lagoon laid prior to identifcation by his family

If this is indeed true, then ‘we’ killed this doctor.
Stigma and discrimination don’t wear a name.
They don’t wear a religion.
They don’t wear a tribe.
They don’t wear a gender.
Stigma and discrimination wear the face of humanity.
Please, in the name of God, stop discriminating against human beings living with any special or strange health conditions. They didn’t ask to be born that way.
It is beyond them so don’t bring it on them.
In secondary school, I had a classmate who was epileptic. She had seizures in odd places and at odd times. It disgraced her without prior notice and it aways left her with injuries, sometimes, severe.
Once she started, we would run away. Some of us, including me, avoided sitting with her in class and we refrained from sharing our stuff with her.
All that changed when I discussed her disturbing health situation with my mum, a seasoned nurse.
First, my mum scolded me for running away from her. She took me through days of lectures on epilepsy, how it wasn’t infectious, what I should do the next time she had a seizure. ” don’t run away, run towards her. loosen any tight article of clothing around her. Remover her stockings, her belt, unfasten her bra, if she’s wearing a tie, loosen it so she can breathe well and so blood circulation is not constrained. Clear the crowd around her so she gets fresh air and then, tilt her chin forward. This action will prevent her from choking on the foamy content in her mouth.”
My mum told me that, as a matter of fact, the foam she produced from her mouth was as harmless as water and it would do me no harm even if I ingested it.
My mum told me to help her avoid noisy environment and excessive emotional situations.
I heard this lecture over and over during the holiday and by the time I returned to school, I was no longer afraid of my friend. I was better informed to deal with her seizure which happened in the dining hall.
Ever since that episode, each time she had a seizure, our friends would scream my name.
My attitude changed simply because I got information and I was no longer ignorant.
Stigma and discrimination ride on ignorance and illiteracy !
Please reach out to those battling inner fears from ill-health and other forms of ‘strange sicknesses’.
It is not their making.
Source: Linda Ikeji Blog

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