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Top Manhattan Hospital ER Physician Commits Suicide

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Specializes in Education, FP, LNC, Forensics, ED, OB. Has 30 years experience.

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A top emergency room doctor at a Manhattan hospital that treated many coronavirus patients died by suicide on Sunday, her father and the police said.

Dr. Lorna M. Breen, the medical director of the emergency department at NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital, died in Charlottesville, Va. ...

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Dr. Breen’s father, Dr. Philip C. Breen, said she had described devastating scenes of the toll the coronavirus took on patients.

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

Read in its entirety: Top E.R. Doctor Who Treated Virus Patients Dies by Suicide

Honor, respect, and admiration. May she rest in peace.

Emergent, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 28 years experience.

I'm sorry to hear. I think we'll hear more cases of this pandemic being the last straw for some people.

These are trying times...

keldorn, BSN, RN

Specializes in Intermediate Care. Has 9 years experience.

I can't fathom having to endure what this doctor had to do, and being able to maintain one's sanity afterwards. My first experience of ER was as a student at a level 1 trauma facility and seeing 3 patients come in back to back for cardiac arrest, and none of them were able to be revived. It gave me nightmares...and that experience would be a cakewalk compared to what was/is going on in ER's bombarded by Covid-19.

Mas Catoer

Specializes in General. Has 30 years experience.

Sad to hear. Having hundreds case of Covid-19 and found out a quarter of them died is depressing. She seemed to be so devoted to the work, but being contracted with the virus prevented her from doing her job which may have driven her feeling unable to provide helps.

She was an ER Doc in NYC. She saw many patients die from, presumably, this horrible virus over the past few months.

It seems to have overwhelmed her and she took her own life.

WOW!. I am trying to figure out how I feel about this. Sorry for her, of course, and for her loved ones and colleagues, all of whom must be just devastated.

On the other hand... Perhaps I have become hardened a great deal over the last several decades of Nursing. All the pain and sorrow we see others endure, all of the Managers and Admins who have no idea, and care even less, of what nurses do and what we bear.

A dear friend of mine took his life many years ago. Sometimes I have pitied him, other times I have been angry. His actions were planned, no mistake about that. I can't share details here but it was a very carefully thought out act. Why, why, why did he never share his feelings/thoughts with family or girlfriend or guy pals? Or the religious leader or anyone apparently, because no one has ever said they know why this happened?

Well, I don't believe suicide gets one to hell, I think mental and emotional pain (+ maybe physical exhaustion or, in this case, maybe she knew she had the virus), cause suicide.

What do you all think?

Emergent, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 28 years experience.

She had pre-existing emotional and psychic pain, this was exacerbated by The covid 19 crisis

Sour Lemon

Has 9 years experience.

I think the covid-19 angle makes a great story, but I don't buy that it's the reason for her suicide. I find it impossible to believe that people who choose ER as a specialty, and reach the age of 49, are fragile enough to be so easily and severely affected.

I don't know her or her family personally, of course. Those are just my thoughts as an outsider looking in.

nursel56

Specializes in Peds/outpatient FP,derm,allergy/private duty. Has 45 years experience.

Praying for friends, family and all who's life was touched by Dr. Breen. What an unimaginable loss.

NRSKarenRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion. Has 44 years experience.

Over the past several days, physicians who are reporting on TV from NY hospitals all stated need for debriefing/mental health support + counseling for dealing with crisis situations they faced daily, especially ED staff dealing with multiple codes and deaths per shift.

I encourage those on the front lines to call their facilities Employee Assistance Program (EAP) --many offer free phone/online support.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK.

Their Lifeline chat available too: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/

Wishing better days ahead. AN forums available for support too.

sirI, MSN, APRN, NP

Specializes in Education, FP, LNC, Forensics, ED, OB. Has 30 years experience.

Topics merged.

15 hours ago, Sour Lemon said:

I think the covid-19 angle makes a great story, but I don't buy that it's the reason for her suicide. I find it impossible to believe that people who choose ER as a specialty, and reach the age of 49, are fragile enough to be so easily and severely affected.

I don't know her or her family personally, of course. Those are just my thoughts as an outsider looking in.

With respect, this is not about being "fragile" or being "so easily" affected. This is NOT like usual death. This is not like usual ER stuff. It's not. It's not a patient dying. It's not a car crash or fire that brings in multiple victims who don't make it.

It's multiple deaths, every day, day after day. It's making phone calls to family members and getting patients moved to CMO over and over. Or it's honoring their wishes to "do everything" and going to multiple, fruitless codes. It's facilitating zoom as a way for families to say goodbye. It's watching person after person struggling for breath, terrified, dying alone, and being loaded into refrigerated trucks. It's putting yourself and your colleagues in harm's way, and often not even seeing any good come out of it, as patient after patient dies.

I have been working COVID med-surg and PCU. I'm not in the ICU or ED. I'm outside NYC. And what I've seen has shaken me. Not to the point of suicide, obviously, but enough to extrapolate how easily it would be to go there, if I take what I've seen and magnify it and multiply it.

I don't mean this to be accusatory, but I'm wondering what your personal experience has been with COVID patients. Have you seen how fast these patients deteriorate? Even on med-surg, we've sometimes seen 3 patients die within half an hour of each other (40 bed floor). We are starting to trend down now, which is amazing news, but when we were in the thick of it, one colleague was really struggling, saying, "I just can't deal with having a patient die every shift."

I think over the next few months and years, we will see a lot of PTSD in those who worked the center of the outbreak. Our soldiers who see combat and comeback with PTSD are not fragile. They're human. What's going on in NYC is the frontline of a war zone.

Sour Lemon

Has 9 years experience.

14 minutes ago, turtlesRcool said:

With respect, this is not about being "fragile" or being "so easily" affected. This is NOT like usual death. This is not like usual ER stuff. It's not. It's not a patient dying. It's not a car crash or fire that brings in multiple victims who don't make it.

It's multiple deaths, every day, day after day. It's making phone calls to family members and getting patients moved to CMO over and over. Or it's honoring their wishes to "do everything" and going to multiple, fruitless codes. It's facilitating zoom as a way for families to say goodbye. It's watching person after person struggling for breath, terrified, dying alone, and being loaded into refrigerated trucks. It's putting yourself and your colleagues in harm's way, and often not even seeing any good come out of it, as patient after patient dies.

I have been working COVID med-surg and PCU. I'm not in the ICU or ED. I'm outside NYC. And what I've seen has shaken me. Not to the point of suicide, obviously, but enough to extrapolate how easily it would be to go there, if I take what I've seen and magnify it and multiply it.

I don't mean this to be accusatory, but I'm wondering what your personal experience has been with COVID patients. Have you seen how fast these patients deteriorate? Even on med-surg, we've sometimes seen 3 patients die within half an hour of each other (40 bed floor). We are starting to trend down now, which is amazing news, but when we were in the thick of it, one colleague was really struggling, saying, "I just can't deal with having a patient die every shift."

I think over the next few months and years, we will see a lot of PTSD in those who worked the center of the outbreak. Our soldiers who see combat and comeback with PTSD are not fragile. They're human. What's going on in NYC is the frontline of a war zone.

When asked, "What do you all think?" and responding with my thoughts, I 99% expected some type of reply like the one you've written. It may be worth mentioning that I would not have responded the same way to what is now the original post (after two threads were merged).

In any case, I can't (and don't want to) "argue" with you about what I think or what you think. Suffice to say, this individual's death is sad no matter the reason why.

angeloublue22, BSN, RN

Specializes in Addictions, psych, and corrections. Has 7 years experience.

I work in a psych hospital and we are seeing more healthcare workers as pts than I have ever seen in my 10 year experience. They are coming with suicide attempts or thoughts and even complete psychotic breaks. It's really sad to see. My own friend worked with COVID pts and ended up getting it. She was admitted to the hospital for on O2 for 3 days. She quit her job and along with still having symptoms 4 weeks later her depression has become unmanageable. My other friend is drinking like a fish to deal with the stress of seeing so much death and sadness. He will also be quitting along with multiple doctors. We're going end up losing a lot of healthcare during and after this not just by the disease itself. I encourage all of you who know healthcare workers dealing with this to check on their mental health and for goodness sake remind them it's okay to use self care coping because we all no we're not good very at taking care of ourselves. I find a way to use my psych skills, since I can't contribute medically right now, to make sure I'm available to listen or provide support.

speedynurse, ADN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in ER, Pre-Op, PACU.

10 hours ago, angeloublue22 said:

I work in a psych hospital and we are seeing more healthcare workers as pts than I have ever seen in my 10 year experience. They are coming with suicide attempts or thoughts and even complete psychotic breaks. It's really sad to see. My own friend worked with COVID pts and ended up getting it. She was admitted to the hospital for on O2 for 3 days. She quit her job and along with still having symptoms 4 weeks later her depression has become unmanageable. My other friend is drinking like a fish to deal with the stress of seeing so much death and sadness. He will also be quitting along with multiple doctors. We're going end up losing a lot of healthcare during and after this not just by the disease itself. I encourage all of you who know healthcare workers dealing with this to check on their mental health and for goodness sake remind them it's okay to use self care coping because we all no we're not good very at taking care of ourselves. I find a way to use my psych skills, since I can't contribute medically right now, to make sure I'm available to listen or provide support.

That’s really heart breaking. However, if you think about it.....our healthcare system has never seen anything quite like this. I can only imagine what the healthcare workers are going through in NYC. I also can’t imagine what it’s like to see coworkers succumb to the virus.....has to be devastating.....especially in places like ERs where a team is often very close knit.