Who was Shawn O'Neill? 16 and Recovering fans pay tribute to Northshore student

16 and Recovering has proven to be one of MTV’s most affecting docuseries they’ve created in years.

The four-part series was launched this September to mark National Recovery Month. It follows the students at Northshore Recovery High School, a radical treatment facility and functioning school based in Beverley, Massachusetts.

The school was founded in 2006 by Michelle Lipinski and over this time they have helped hundreds of students back to health. However, the school is not always successful, as we have seen on 16 and Recovering. During filming, the students took time to mourn the loss of their classmate, Shawn Michael O’Neill.

If you are struggling with any of the issues addressed in 16 and Recovering or this article, visit their website for more information and to seek help.

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Who was Shawn Michael O’Neill?

Shawn Michael O’Neill was one of the students at Northshore Recovery High School.

The 18-year-old had been sober for 114 days and was doing well, until the Thanksgiving weekend sent him spiralling. Shawn took a combination of fentanyl and heroin, which resulted in a fatal overdose. Despite telling Michelle that he would stay sober over the 4.5 day holiday, Shawn started using the aforementioned substances. When Shawn underwent his routine drug test at school after the holiday, they found out what he had been taking. Michelle called Shawn’s mother Deb and informed her of his drug use; this resulted in a falling out between Deb and Shawn, and Shawn and Michelle. He passed after the school and his family found out he was using again.

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Shawn had greatly struggled with his mental health and in episode 3 (Tuesday, September 15th) informed the camera crew about his past struggles with self harm. Speaking to camera, Shawn explained that he had over 100 scars and self harmed as a method of coping with his anxiety.

16 and Recovering addresses Shawn’s death

In the third episode, the school’s principal Michelle Lipinski had to inform the students of Shawn’s passing.

Michelle told the students:

On the way back from my class that I was teaching, I got a call from Shawn’s mother. 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. He passed away this morning.

The student body was rocked by the news of Shawn’s death.

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Tributes to Shawn Michael O’Neill

Since news broke of Shawn’s passing, many have poured out online to share their thoughts and pay tribute to Shawn. 16 and Recovering’s executive producer and director Steve Liss recounted his time with Shawn to MTV. Steve said: “He was deeply loved, a universally loved child at Recovery High School. 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.”

One viewer tweeted: “We are going to remember Shawn for everything he was and could have been.”

Another said: “I hope your resting peacefully Shawn. You were clearly loved.”

If you are struggling with any of the issues addressed in 16 and Recovering or this article, visit their website for more information and to seek help.




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