Parents refuse to bury truth about son's heroin overdose death

Parents write brutally honest obituary after ... 02:21

BRIDGEWATER, Mass. --In Bridgewater, Massachusetts on Wednesday, a mother and father laid their son to rest. But they refused to hide the truth about his death.

Family, friends, even strangers, watched as the coffin carrying the body of 20-year-old college sophomore Emmett Scannell made its way into Central Square Congregational Church.

Coffin carrying the body of 20-year-old college sophomore Emmett Scannell makes its way into Central Square Congregational Church. CBS News

Inside, an emotional father celebrated the life of his oldest boy, once an honor student on full academic scholarship. With painful honesty, he told the world that heroin made it all go wrong.

"Our honesty and openness in his obituary was so that other parents can follow suit without shame or embarrassment," his father said at the funeral.

Bill Scannell and Emmett's mom, Aimee, decided to be open about the cause of their son's death. They posted a Facebook message with their son's obituary, and Emmett's dad read it before all at the funeral.

"When you look at this picture, do you see a junkie? Do you see a desperate young man who is addicted to heroin? Do you see someone that is so sad and depressed he had become a prisoner of his own life?" Bill asked.

Emmett Scannell. CBS News

Emmett was on heroin for just 18 months -- and was in and out of rehab while in school.

"He was looking for the next high, it's a disease. He was looking for the next best thing," his mother Aimee said.

His father recently discovered his son might be using again.

"I hugged him right there. I whispered in his ear, 'Emmett please don't shoot dope. Just finish finals. And I love you' and he looked right at me in the eyes and he said 'Dad I promise I won't. I love you,'" said Bill.

Eleven days later, Emmett was dead.

Emmett's parents Aimee and Bill. CBS News

Their public plea is already making an impact.

"A close friend of mine came up and hugged me and whispered in our ear that because her daughter who had been a heroin addict and substance abuse sufferer saw Emmett's story -- they were leaving right here from the funeral to check her into detox immediately," said Bill.

In Massachusetts, four people die everyday from opioid overdoses. The Scannell family says they are on a mission to bring those numbers down.

If you want to help the Scannell family, you can reach them at or send them a friend request on Facebook.