'16 & Recovering': How Shawn O'Neill was failed by insurance company and treatment program leading to his death
Shawn O'Neill, an 18-year-old student at Northshore Recovery High School featured on the latest '16 & Recovering' episode that aired on Tuesday night (September 15). He had been sober for 114 days but his journey was a tough one as he tried to self-harm numerous times. In a confessional, he told the cameras that he had more than 100 scars, some of which he got when he was a child and the rest from cutting himself. He said he never did it to kill himself but to cope with anxiety.
Thanksgiving was around the corner, meaning a 4.5 days vacation for students. When they weren't at school, chances of them using drugs again were always high and Shawn worried that he would slip up and sat down to have a conversation with Northshore Recovery High School founder Michelle Lipinski wherein he assured her that he would stay sober and if anything, he will smoke marijuana at the most. She tried to talk him out of doing so; however, Shawn acted on his needs and started using again and this time fentanyl was thrown into the mix as well along with heroin.
He showed up at the school after the vacation and Michelle had to make a call to Shawn's mother Deb. Shawn was reprimanded by Deb as she wanted to see him alive and threatened to have him "sectioned" if he couldn't convince her that he would stop using. Michelle stepped in with a suggestion that she knew of a facility that would help him get better and Shawn agreed to go get help, but he was stopped by the insurance company and the treatment program who told him that he'd need to go through the emergency room. No one tended to him at the ER where he stayed put for over six hours after which he made up his mind and decided he'd not like to get admitted to the facility. After discovering this, Michelle wrote a letter to the courts telling them that Shawn needed help and also provided them intel on all the substances he was using, which led to an argument between them. He felt that Michelle was just trying to get back at her for not going to the facility she had secured for him.
The next day Michelle received terrible news which she had to share with the rest of her students at the school which shattered everyone's hearts. Shawn had just died from overdosing and the news caused an upheaval at the school and everyone had a very hard time dealing with the news. After grieving the loss, the students along with the teachers celebrated his life and all the joy he had brought to them but his death also served as a lesson to many, opening their eyes and leaving them with a feeling of never wanting to ever do drugs again.
'16 & Recovering' airs Tuesdays at 9 pm ET only on MTV.