coronavirus

NYC Emergency Room Doctor Dies by Suicide After Treating COVID-19 Patients

The 49-year-old doctor had previously contracted the coronavirus while treating patients, but recovered and recently had gone back to work before being sent home once again, according to her father

Lorna Breen

A top New York City emergency room doctor died by suicide after treating COVID-19 patients, her father told NBC News.

Dr. Lorna Breen was the ER medical director at New York Presbyterian Allen Hospital in Inwood. The hospital confirmed Breen's death to NBC News, but offered little other details.

The 49-year-old doctor had previously contracted the coronavirus while treating patients, according to her father. She recovered and recently had gone back to work, but the hospital sent her home once again, her father told the New York Times.

"She was in every sense of the word a hero, who gave her life for her friends and her city," her father said.

Breen was staying with family in Virginia when she died Sunday. Charlottesville police, who received a call from the residence just before noon, confirmed the death was from "self-inflicted injuries."

"Words cannot convey the sense of loss we feel today," the statement from the hospital to NBC News said. "Dr. Breen is a hero who brought the highest ideals of medicine to the challenging front lines of the emergency department. 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."

Her father, who is also a doctor, told NBC News that Breen, "like the many heroes that are still there," fought on the front lines in the battle against coronavirus, treating patients in the nation's epicenter of the crisis in NYC.

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"She was — in every way — in the trenches of this war, fighting the effects of this COVID virus that she contracted herself," he said. "She went home and stayed for a week and a half before she felt obligated to go back to the trenches and help, so that's what she did."

CoronavirusOnlineTherapy.org is made up of more than 3,500 volunteer therapists providing free or low-cost services to frontline workers in the U.S. The group has received more than 7,000 requests in the last two weeks and a shout-out from actress Kristen Bell.

If you or someone you know is in a crisis, including at risk of suicide or self-harm, help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Trained counselors are available 24/7.

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