NYC Doctor: A Real Hero & Casualty Of COVID-19 Who Should Be Remembered

(5-1-20) The death of Dr. Lorna Breen has received widespread attention but I want to memorialize her and remind the public that there are many reasons why someone chooses to end their own life – a lack of moral character is NOT one of them.

I am grateful for all the good that Dr. Breen did and for her father’s bravery in speaking out during his family’s pain to warn others about how COVID-19 is not only threatening Americans’ physical health but mental health as well.

If you feel overwhelmed or know someone who is, please contact the national suicide lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Father of late ER doctor who died by suicide says she ‘just ran out of steam’

The father of top Manhattan ER doctor Lorna Breen — who committed suicide after working on the front lines of the battle against the coronavirus — said in a new interview that “she put her life on the line to take care of other people.”

“She was a doctor, every bit of the word that a doctor should be,” Philip Breen said on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time.”

“She put her life on the line to take care of other people. She was in the trenches, so to speak, right in the front line as people were dying left and right around her,” the retired surgeon said about his 49-year-old daughter, who had become infected herself and returned to work after recovering.

Lorna Breen, the medical director of the emergency department at NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital, took her own life Sunday while staying with family in Charlottesville, Va.

“I just want people to know how special she was,” her dad said.

His daughter had told him that her fellow medical workers were putting in 18-hour days and sleeping in the halls, and that ambulances couldn’t get in because it was so busy, according to CNN.

After contracting the disease, Breen stayed home for just over a week, which in hindsight, her father said, he believes wasn’t enough time.

“I think she felt an overwhelming sense of wanting to help her colleagues and her friends who were still fighting the good fight and so she strapped on her harness and took the bit in her mouth and she went back,” he said.

During her final shift, Philip Breen said, she “went down in the traces like a horse that had pulled too heavy a load and couldn’t go a step further and just went down, and so she went down.”

Breen added that his daughter — whom he remembered as a salsa dancer, a nursing home volunteer and a snowboarder — had not been struggling with any emotional problems.

“As of Sunday, she took her own life because I think she was tired and she was the kind of person, as somebody has very aptly put it, she was like the fireman who runs into the burning building to save another life and doesn’t regard anything about herself. So she has paid the price and she’s been in the trenches,” he said on the program.

Dr. Lorna M. Breen
Dr. Lorna M. Breen  Chris Leary Photography CNN

A close pal of the doctor has told The Post that “it broke her” when she was told she still wasn’t well enough to return to work and was instructed to go back home.

About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.