Sinead O’Connor has revealed that her 17-year-old son took his own life by hanging himself after he went missing from hospital last week. The Irish singer posted on social media describing the circumstances of her son’s death as she continued to criticise the authorities over his care and said that he had hanged himself after a previous a week earlier.
The heartbroken mother, 55, confirmed yesterday on Twitter that her ‘beautiful’ son Shane, who she described as ‘the light of her life’, had ‘decided to end his earthly struggle’. The singer criticised the Irish authorities, including the child and family agency Tusla, for their ‘refusal to accept responsibility’ and claimed ‘too many kids were dying on their watch’. She said she had been to identify the body of her son who was last seen in Tallaght, South Dublin, on Friday morning. He had gone missing from hospital a day earlier.
In a post on social media, O’Connor wrote: ‘I have now formally identified the remains of my son, Shane. May God forgive the Irish State for I never will. Now Tusla want to discuss with me ”a media release” no doubt wishing to have me join in their efforts to make this death of my child seem like it wasn’t at the hands of the Irish State.
‘Tusla and HSE to release dishonest statement in response to international questioning. A load of lies, refusals to accept responsibility. Couched as always in the omnipotent and false concern they claim to have for the privacy of the children who die on their watch. ‘I’m going to take private time now to grieve my son. When I am ready I will be telling exactly how the Irish State in the ignorant, evil, self-serving, lying forms of Tusla and the HSE enabled and facilitated his death. Magdalene Ireland never went away. Ask the youth.
‘And any statement out of Tusla suggesting they a) did their best b) care or c) have deepest sympathies for anyone here but their lawyers, is a load of crap trap that has killed too many kids and it isn’t going to wash this time. Too many kids are dying on Tusla’s watch.’
As part of a renewed police appeal to find Shane who was missing for a week, he was seen wearing a black hoodie with a colourful print design, dark tracksuit bottoms, a plum coloured T-shirt and white trainers. Sinead, who changed her name to Shuhada’ Davitt in 2018, paid tribute to her ‘beautiful’ son on Saturday. In a tweet, she wrote: ‘My beautiful son, Nevi’im Nesta Ali Shane O’Connor, the very light of my life, decided to end his earthly struggle today and is now with God. ‘May he rest in peace and may no one follow his example. My baby. I love you so much. Please be at peace:’
Shane was one of Sinead’s four children, along with Jake Reynolds, Roisin Waters and Yeshua Francis Neil Bonadio.
Sinead later tweeted a Bob Marley song which she dedicated to Shane, heartbreakingly describing her son as her ‘blue-eye baby’ and the ‘light of my life’.
Shane went missing earlier this week and was last seen in Tallaght, South Dublin, on Friday, with Gardai launching an appeal to find the teenager.
Taking to social media after Shane went missing, Sinead threatened Tallaght Hospital with a lawsuit if ‘anything happens to my son’, alleging that her son went missing from the hospital while on suicide watch.
Gardai renewed their appeal for assistance in tracing the whereabouts of Shane on Friday, writing: ‘Shane was last seen this [Friday] morning in the Tallaght, Dublin 24 area. Shane is described as being 5′ 6’ in height with short brown hair and blue eyes.
‘When last seen, he was wearing a black hoodie with a large print design in the centre, dark tracksuit pants, a wine coloured t-shirt and white runners. Gardaí are concerned for Shane’s welfare.’
The police force reportedly confirmed on Saturday that the search for Shane had been ‘stood down’ after a body had been found.
‘Following the recovery of a body in the Bray area of Wicklow on Friday, January 7, 2022, a Missing Person Appeal in respect of Shane O’Connor, 17 years, has been stood down.’ Representatives of Sinead O’Connor said: ‘Regrettably, we can confirm the passing of Shane O’Connor.
‘We politely ask for respect and appreciation for Sinead, Shane’s father and Shane’s family at this most difficult time.’
In the Ireland of O’Connor’s youth, the church and state ruled together. Divorce was illegal, sex was not to be discussed and “The Troubles” was the euphemism employed to describe the warring, largely between Catholics and the Protestants, that led to thousands of deaths. In this midst of this, during the 1970s, Sean and Marie O’Connor decided to separate. Sinead, not yet 10, ended up living with her mother, a regular churchgoer who also regularly and brutally beat her daughter. (These beatings were, she says, often when she was naked. In the past, she’s termed them sexual assaults.)
Beyond her personal torment, O’Connor paid attention as reports of abuse in the church in Ireland began to circulate.
“When the pope came to Ireland when I was a kid, the first thing he did is get down on the ground and kisses the ground and says ‘Young people of Ireland, I love you,’ ” O’Connor says. “Yet the church was creating people like my mother.”
As a girl, she suffered abuse from her deeply religious mother that remains with her decades after her mother’s death. In the past, she’s tried to fight and deflect it, sometimes by lashing out at others. She’s learned that this doesn’t help.
“Because that kind of pain doesn’t go away,” O’Connor says. “You only learn to live with it. Music is where I can manage it.”
She has four children, a pair of grandchildren, four ex-husbands and an ex-boyfriend, Frank, who lives a short walk down Strand Road with their son, Yeshua, 13.
In 2015, doctors in Ireland performed a radical hysterectomy to relieve O’Connor’s chronic endometriosis. But the procedure pushed her into premature menopause, which went undiagnosed and unmedicated, she says, and made her go “completely mental.” She moved to Chicago, where she had friends, then moved to nearby Waukegan, lived in a motel and volunteered at a veteran’s hospital.
As her depression deepened, she headed to San Francisco and checked into a well-respected treatment center. She eventually landed in a New Jersey Travelodge, where, in August 2017, O’Connor posted a 12-minute plea on Facebook referencing suicide attempts and intense loneliness. That led to an ill-advised appearance on “Dr. Phil.”
John Reynolds, her first husband and longtime producer, flew to the States and brought O’Connor home to Ireland. And with that, one of contemporary music’s greatest and most original artists seemed to vanish.
But last month, O’Connor, 53, quietly traveled to the West Coast for the opening leg of a mini tour, eight club shows spread over 12 days. They were a first step to reclaiming a career virtually abandoned during the years of turmoil, familial conflict and canceled gigs. All seemed forgiven. Crowds were spellbound as O’Connor, in bare feet and a hijab — she converted to Islam in 2018 — mesmerized them with a 17-song set that stretched across her career.
O’Connor says her proudest moment remains her most famous, that 1992 appearance on “Saturday Night Live.” That’s when she decided, without telling the show’s producers or her publicist, she was going to use her promotional appearance to deliver a political message to one of her frequent targets, the Catholic Church. This was more than a decade before widespread reports in the American press about the sexual abuse and coverups by clergy. By then, in Ireland, O’Connor had already seen smaller reports of the behavior.
After performing Bob Marley’s protest song, “War,” O’Connor lifted a photograph of Pope John Paul II to the camera, tore the picture into pieces and declared “fight the real enemy.”
The camera cut away in silence. That week, O’Connor was attacked in headlines (New York Newsday: “No hair, no taste”), her records were piled up and steamrolled in Manhattan and, at a sold-out Madison Square Garden tribute to Bob Dylan, angry shouts drove her off the sta