Family of Doctor Who Died from Suicide Brings Attention to Mental Health Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
Following the tragic death of an ER doctor, the family is speaking out about how they believe COVID-19 played a role in their loved one's unexpected suicide.
Last weekend, one family was left reeling when New York Dr. Lorna Breen, 49, took her own life in Virginia. Breen had been on the front lines of the pandemic and was said to be overwhelmed with the deaths.
Her sister and brother-in-law, Jennifer and Corey Feist spoke to "Today Show" host Savannah Guthrie regarding their impressions about what really happened.
BREEN'S SISTER RECOUNTS DARK COMMENTS
"She said it was like Armageddon," said Jennifer, adding, "She said, 'There are so many sick people everywhere.' " Breen also told her sister that people were dying in the waiting room of the hospital.
The doctor worked in the emergency room of the New York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital. The situation there included a lack of oxygen hookups and slow admissions.
Breen herself contracted COVID-19 and ended up staying home for just 11 days. She went on to work 12-hour shifts upon her return. Her sister believes the illness contributed to her sister's deterring mental health.
JENNIFER HAS HER OWN IDEA OF THE CAUSE
When asked if it was just the illness or the excessive hours, Jennifer insisted it was both. "And I believe that [COVID-19] altered her brain," she said.
Not only was Breen unable to help as many people as she wanted, but she would stay beyond her shift to the detriment of her health. Her sister encouraged Breen to take care of herself, but she wouldn't do it.
Following the tragic loss, the family is now hoping to bring awareness to the matter of mental health for frontline health care workers and remove the stigma that's preventing them from speaking out.
The Impact on HCWs is real.— Joseph Sakran (@JosephSakran) April 28, 2020
Dr. Lorna Breen, head of the ED at a Manhattan hospital committed suicide.
She spent days on the front lines.
She had contracted #COVIDー19
She had no history of mental illness
“She tried to do her job, and it killed her” Dr. Philip Breen (Dad) pic.twitter.com/vY2nyTZA6Z
BREEN'S DAD SAYS SHE COULDN'T STOP HELPING
Elsewhere, Breen's father spoke to Chris Cuomo about his daughter after her death. Dr. Philip Breen is a doctor himself and described his daughter as being in the trenches of the outbreak.
"I think she felt an overwhelming sense of wanting to help her colleagues and her friends who were still fighting the good fight," said the mourning dad, who insisted his daughter was a hero.
DR. CHOO GIVES OPINION ON FRONTLINE WORKERS
On "what the public needs to know in terms of how bad this disease is." ER doc Esther Choo: "Without seeing it it's hard for people to understand." Hospital secrecy harms public health: https://t.co/fhDVoIQ6Ne— Paige Williams (@williams_paige) March 31, 2020
Meanwhile, another doctor is speaking out about the reality of medical personnel who are dealing with COVID-19 patients and are scared for their lives.
Dr. Esther Choo noted that frontline healthcare workers have had to have some of the most difficult conversations with themselves and their families, including who will take care of their kids if they die.
Coronavirus: 'Living legend' doctor Alfa Saadu dies from Covid-19 https://t.co/EImKU2DKcS— BBC Look East (@BBCLookEast) April 1, 2020
Choo believes that a lot of people are thinking about the possibility they'll lose friends or colleagues due to the outbreak. Her comments followed the death of 68-year-old Dr. Alfa Saadu, an Essex doctor.
Saadu refused to go to the hospital when he became ill because he said he didn't want to take up space that others might need. He died at the Whittington Hospital in North London. Our condolences to the families of all the deceased.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org.
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