The 22-year-old granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy died Thursday at the fabled political family’s compound in Hyannisport, Mass., the family said in a statement.
Saoirse Kennedy Hill was the daughter of Courtney Kennedy Hill, the fifth of 11 children born to the late New York senator and wife Ethel, The New York Times reported. She attended Boston College, where she was a member of the class of 2020, the university confirmed to The Boston Globe.
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“Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse,” the family statement said. “Her life was filled with hope, promise and love. She cared deeply about friends and family, especially her mother Courtney, her father Paul, her stepmother Stephanie, and her grandmother Ethel.”
The statement quoted Ethel Kennedy as saying: “The world is a little less beautiful today” before continuing: “She lit up our lives with her love, her peals of laughter and her generous spirit. Saoirse was passionately moved by the causes of human rights and women’s empowerment and found great joy in volunteer work, working alongside indigenous communities to build schools in Mexico. We will love her and miss her forever.”
The statement was issued by Brian Wright O’Connor, a spokesman for Saoirse Hill’s uncle, former Massachusetts congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II.
Hill’s father, Paul Michael Hill, was one of four men falsely convicted in the 1974 Irish Republican Army bombings of two pubs in Guildford, England.
Hyannis Fire Capt. Greg Dardia told Fox News Police that paramedics responded to a medical call at 28 Marchant Avenue at around 2:30 p.m. Hill was taken to Cape Cod Hospital in an unknown condition. It is not clear whether she was pronounced dead at the hospital or at the property.
Boston 25 News, citing a law enforcement source, reported that Hill died from a suspected drug overdose.
“Earlier this afternoon Barnstable Police responded to a residence on Marchant Ave in Hyannisport for a reported unattended death,” Cape and Islands Assistant District Attorney Tara Miltimore said in a statement. “The matter remains under investigation by Barnstable Police and State Police detectives assigned to the District Attorney’s Office.”
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In a 2016 opinion piece for the Deerfield Scroll, the student newspaper for the Deerfield Academy boarding school, Hill wrote about her bouts with depression.
“My depression took root in the beginning of my middle school years and will be with me for the rest of my life,” she wrote. “Although I was mostly a happy child, I suffered bouts of deep sadness that felt like a heavy boulder on my chest. These bouts would come and go, but they did not outwardly affect me until I was a new sophomore at Deerfield.”
She added that “someone I knew and loved broke serious sexual boundaries with me,” leading her to pretend the incident hadn’t happened and attempting suicide.
She urged students and faculty to talk openly about mental illness in order to get rid of the stigma associated with depression.
“People talk about cancer freely; why is it so difficult to discuss the effects of depression, bipolar [sic], anxiety, or schizophrenic disorders?” Hill wrote. “Just because the illness may not be outwardly visible doesn’t mean the person suffering from it isn’t struggling.”
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The compound has around six homes on Nantucket Sound in Hyannisport. The Hyannis News first reported that the home where police were called owned by Ethel Kennedy.
Multiple generations of the Kennedy family have lived at the compound, which famously served as President John F. Kennedy’s summer White House.
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