Manhattan ER Doctor Who Treated COVID-19 Patients Commits Suicide

New York has become the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S.

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A talented Manhattan emergency room doctor who was at the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic died by suicide on Sunday.

Dr. Lorna M. Breen had gone to Charlottesville, Virginia to stay with her family, the New York Times reports. She was the medical director of the emergency department at New York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital.

“The victim was taken to U.V.A. Hospital for treatment, but later succumbed to self-inflicted injuries,” Tyler Hawn, a spokesman for the Charlottesville Police Department, told the publication.

Dr. Breen’s father, Dr. Philip C. Breen, said she had told him about the severity of the virus. “She tried to do her job, and it killed her,” he said. “She was truly in the trenches of the front line.”

Her father said she had tested positive for COVID-19, but had gone back to the hospital after recovering for around a week and a half. After the hospital made her go home again, her family brought her to Charlottesville.

While the 49-year-old didn’t struggle with mental illness, “she seemed detached, and he could tell something was wrong. She had described to him an onslaught of patients who were dying before they could even be taken out of ambulances,” the Times wrote.

Breen’s father added, “Make sure she’s praised as a hero, because she was. She’s a casualty just as much as anyone else who has died.”

NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia described the late doctor in a statement. “Dr. Breen is a hero who brought the highest ideals of medicine to the challenging front lines of the emergency department,” the release said. “Our focus today is to provide support to her family, friends and colleagues as they cope with this news during what is already an extraordinarily difficult time.”

The exact cause of death hasn’t yet been disclosed.

NewYork-Presbyterian Allen was overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, sometimes having as many as 170 patients in the 200-bed hospital. A colleague of Breen told the Times that she was always taking care of others; even when she was sick, she was texting her co-workers to see how they were holding up.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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