Leading Manhattan ER doctor commits suicide, terrified by coronavirus onslaught

After spending restless days and sleepless nights on the coronavirus frontlines, the head of the emergency department at a Manhattan hospital committed suicide.

Dr. Philip Breen, the father of Dr. Lorna Breen, a physician and the medical director of the NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital, told the New York Times:

“She tried to do her job, and it killed her.”

The 49-year-old healthcare worker was feeling extremely exhausted by the endless battle with the novel virus. She was only the latest medic to take her own life amid the pandemic, as the New York Post reports.

Only two days earlier, another admirable doctor took his own life. John Mondello was a Bronx EMT, handling one of the biggest 911 call volumes in the city. He simply couldn’t stand witnessing the terrifying coronavirus situation, so he shot himself with a gun that belonged to his retired NYPD cop father.

On Sunday, April 26th, Dr. Lorna Breen was found dead in Charlottesville, Virginia, where she’d been staying with her family, as her devastated father shares.

Image credits: Dr. Lorna Breen / Facebook

Dr. Philip Breen explained his daughter contracted the virus while she was working. But after only a week, she was feeling better, so she returned to her duties as a frontline healthcare worker.

However, the hospital sent Lorna back home, and her concerned family decided to bring her to Virginia. Her father also shared his beloved daughter told him how agonizing it was to constantly witness her patients lose their lives to the deadly virus. Some of them died even before they could be taken from the ambulance. Phillip said:

“She was truly in the trenches on the front line. Make sure she’s praised as a hero. She’s a casualty just as much as anyone else who has died.”

NY Post contacted mental-health professionals, who stated that PTSD from the pandemic is becoming a very real crisis.

One of the experts was Professor Debra Kaysen, head of the school’s International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies from Stanford University. Prof. Kaysen claimed that the people who are at the highest risk of post-traumatic stress disorders are indeed the frontline healthcare workers.

Additionally, an ICU doctor working in the city describes the pressure all the medics are currently experiencing as almost too much to handle at times. She explains it feels like they are ‘standing under a waterfall and couldn’t get a breath for air’. The doctor adds:

“Now it feels busy but not in a way that’s suffocating. I was in a really low place. But I feel hopeful that I’m starting to come out of it, finally.”

However, the medic admits their work can be deeply depressing, as many patients don’t make it after being taken to the intensive care units.

Still, she feels confused about how to feel about the people who clap outside her hospital to praise her and her colleagues amid the pandemic.

“The clappers make me cry whenever I hear them. But also it’s weird — because none of us feel like heroes because we feel so defeated by this disease.”

In a press release from Monday, April 27th, the Charlottesville Police Department extended their condolences to Dr. Lorna Breen’s family.

They also explained she was taken to UVA Hospital for treatment, but unfortunately, she later died of her self-inflicted injuries.

If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, please seek help from a friend, a family member, or a professional.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s phone number is 1-800-273-8255. 

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