NY suicide Covid doctor was a keen orchestral cellist

NY suicide Covid doctor was a keen orchestral cellist


norman lebrecht

April 29, 2020

The Curtis teacher Ida Kavafian reports that Dr. Lorna Breen, who was driven to suicide by the stress of caring for Covid patients in a New York hospital, was an enthusiastic amateur cellist who studied with Magdalena Garbalinska.

Psychiatrist Gia Merlo of NY University adds: Dr. Lorna M. Breen, the medical director of the emergency department at NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital, died Sunday. She was a delightful, empathic physician and cellist. She was an effervescent, dedicated member of the orchestra for many years and the news comes as a devastating, heart-wrenching blow to our New York Late Starters Orchestra members.

Rest her soul.


  • E says:

    my heart goes out to her family. just devastating.

  • Brian v says:

    Very sad we are losing good people in this world

  • Bruce says:

    The more you learn about a person, the more you learn about what their loss will mean.

    That’s what I mean when I say knowing this makes it somehow even worse.

  • Larry says:

    Has it been confirmed 100% that the doctor took her own life strictly because of the strain of treating virus patients or were there, perhaps, other issues in her life which were then exacerbated by the stress? I certainly do not wish to dismiss this tragedy. (My mother took her own life in 1998.) I’m just asking to clarify.

    I see people listed as having died because of the virus but, if they had pre-existing health problems, is it medically correct to say that it was solely the virus which was responsible? I’m not a doctor; I don’t know. Again I say that I am not minimizing the tragedy. I live in New York State, the so-called epicenter, and we have experienced a tremendous loss of life. One life lost is one life too many.

    • Bruce says:

      I don’t think they can confirm that for you “100%,” unless she left a note explaining in detail all the reasons why she was going to kill herself, and the family agrees to publish the note.

      She could have had a pre-existing condition, undiagnosed depression or something, that put her at greater risk; but it’s pretty clear she didn’t die from the virus in the sense of getting sick and dying. (In fact, she’d contracted it and recovered, then went back to work). Your question is a little confusing.

      Her father is on record as saying that the stress of caring for COVID-19 patients is what drove her to kill herself. He is a doctor and seems to have been fairly forthcoming about this; perhaps you should reach out to him with questions about his daughter’s personal life, in the interest of total clarification.

      Dr. Breen, 49, did not have a history of mental illness, her father said. But he said that when he last spoke with her, she seemed detached, and he could tell something was wrong. She had described to him an onslaught of patients who were dying before they could even be taken out of ambulances.

      “She was truly in the trenches of the front line,” he said.

      He added: “Make sure she’s praised as a hero, because she was. She’s a casualty just as much as anyone else who has died.”


      P.S. before anyone takes my response to Larry the wrong way, let me google “Poe’s Law” for you: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe%27s_law

      • Quinn says:

        Her selfish act left numerous patients abandoned in their own helpless time of need. (That too helps the media narrative and promulgates emotional upheaval translating into headlines).

        The focus belongs on the ill and those who succumbed to it along with the origin of the pestilence.

        The media loves to conflate any real or perceived tragedies to further their progressive agenda. Don’t fall for the same scripted fare folks.

        • Waltraud U says:


          Bruce just said “Her father is on record as saying that the stress of caring for COVID-19 patients is what drove her to kill herself.”

          Doctors deal with life, sickness and death regularly as part of their chosen profession.

          This professional woman should have simply gone to her superior and sought out counseling instead of allowing herself to fall apart on the job.

          It’s just created a bad look for women in healthcare now as they will require excessive monitoring compared to men.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    A tragic loss of a life and talent. Her father said in that NYT article that she’d contracted the disease. I’m not a doctor but isn’t there a suggestion that neurological damage is occurring with Covid-19 to an, as yet indeterminate, extent? Could this not have had something to do with it? A music-lover un a messageboard reports that her husband only recently died of Covid-19 and described bizarre, uncharacteristic, irrational behaviour just prior to his hospitalization.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      “but isn’t there a suggestion that neurological damage is occurring with Covid-19”


      • norman lebrecht says:

        That’s rubbish. You have no medical knowledge at all. Talk to frontline doctors before you post on this subject again.

  • Larry says:

    Fair enough, Bruce. I don’t wish to belabor the subject. Let us all mourn the life of what was, by all accounts, an exceptional young woman. Somehow we will all get through this crisis. I don’t know how but I know we will. Stay safe, everyone!

  • John Marks says:

    Eternal rest, grant her, O Lord;
    And may let perpetual light
    Shine upon her.

    Somehow, I feel a need to listen to Morten Lauridsen’s “Lux Aeterna.”

    There is no worse thing for a parent to have to endure;

    It has taken me three minutes to type this.


  • Sharon says:

    In the United States getting into medical school and medical school itself, is extraordinarily competitive. Doctors are used to being successful achievers, accomplishing everything they set out to do.
    Many look at deaths, especially the deaths of younger people, as personal failures.

    And Norman, the possibility that the Covid virus itself could have somehow physiologically helped cause a clinical depression, is not rubbish, especially, as anecdotal evidence now seems to indicate, that it causes vascular problems, like blood clotting, which can kill or alter brain tissue.

    We know about as much about the pathophysiology of this virus as we did about the bubonic plague in the seventeenth century. That is part of what is causing all these deaths.