Northshore Recovery High School lost one of its own during tonight's 16 and Recovering episode: Principal Michelle Lipinski sadly informed her community that Shawn O'Neill, a student at the Massachusetts school, had passed away at age 18.
"On the way back from my class that I was teaching, I got a call from Shawn's mother," Michelle told Shawn's classmates and her fellow instructors. "She put him to bed last night, and he was fine. And she went to work this morning thinking he was okay. She realized she was running late for work, so she had her daughter go and wake him up. And he had overdosed." As the students wept and embraced each other, she announced, "He passed away this morning."
Michelle later reflected on Shawn's death -- and "the many factors that failed him."
"The biggest one is, I had a bed [at treatment]," she stated. "He was willing to go, and the insurance company and the treatment program said, 'You have to go through the emergency room.'" There, Shawn waited for hours and eventually left the day before he overdosed.
16 and Recovering's executive producer and director Steve Liss recounted his time with Shawn and the teen's impact at Northshore.
"He was deeply loved, a universally loved child at Recovery High School," Liss recently told MTV News. "And that, to me, says so much about him. No one ever had a bad word to say about Shawn. He was a sweet, sweet kid, and he came from a lovely and loving family."
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, you are not alone and help is available. For treatment options and other resources, visit 16andrecovering.com. If you need to talk to someone, call 800-273-8255 for a free, confidential conversation anytime. Join the conversation using #16andRecovering.