When hopelessness becomes deadlier than coronavirus

This pandemic is cruel. The disease targets vulnerable people on our island and around the world who are at high risk of deteriorating mental health that could result in death.

Dr. Lorna Breen wasn’t one of those vulnerable people. She was tough. She was fit. She was smart. Breen was the medical director of a busy New York City emergency room on the front lines of the fight against coronavirus this past April when she herself became infected by the virus.

She recovered from the infection but she wasn’t the same. Several weeks later, she committed suicide.

Her father, Dr. Phillip Breen, told The New York Times that his daughter had no history of mental illness, but said when he last spoke to her, she seemed “detached” as she described how distressing it was to have to watch so many patients die, including some who never even made it out of the ambulance.

“She was truly in the trenches on the front line,’’ her father said. “She tried to do her job, and it killed her. In New York City, as in other hard-hit locations, health-care providers have been forced to work exhausting hours, often in overcrowded and under-resourced settings, with no clear end in sight, all while dealing with the fear of exposing themselves or their families to the virus, and it is no more different on Guam.