Robert F. Kennedy's Granddaughter Died of a Suspected Overdose at the Family’s Massachusetts Compound
Saoirse Kennedy Hill was just 22 years old.
Robert F. Kennedy‘s granddaughter Saoirse Kennedy Hill died Thursday after what multiple news reports described as a suspected overdose at the Kennedys’ Massachusetts compound. She was 22.
In a statement to PEOPLE, the famous political family confirmed the tragic news of her death just hours after paramedics rushed to their Hyannis Port property.
VIDEO: Saoirse Kennedy Hill, Robert F. Kennedy's Granddaughter, Dies at 22
“Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse. Her life was filled with hope, promise, and love,” the family said. “She cared deeply about friends and family, especially her mother Courtney, her father Paul, her stepmother Stephanie, and her grandmother Ethel.”
Ethel Kennedy, 91, also said of her grandaughter’s unexpected passing, “The world is a little less beautiful today. 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.”
Saoirse was the only daughter of Courtney Kennedy Hill, 62, and Paul Hill, 65.
Multiple outlets including The Hyannis News and The New York Times reported that the home, where Saoirse was found, belonged to her grandmother Ethel, the 91-year-old widow of the late senator Robert F. Kennedy.
On Thursday, Assistant District Attorney Tara Miltimore of the Cape & Islands District Attorney’s Office confirmed to PEOPLE that the incident is currently under investigation by authorities.
“Earlier this afternoon Barnstable Police responded to a residence on Marchant Ave in Hyannis Port for a reported unattended death,” Miltimore says. “The matter remains under investigation by Barnstable Police and State Police detectives assigned to the District Attorney’s Office.”
According to The Hyannis News, local police responded to the scene just after 2:30 p.m. on Thursday after a report of a possible overdose.
A paramedic, who was one of the first on the scene, radioed for backup as Saoirse was in cardiac arrest, according to the local paper.
The Hyannis Fire Department also confirmed to the News that they responded to a “medical call.”
Saoirse was then rushed to Cape Cod Hospital where she was pronounced dead. Investigators remained at the scene as they continued to investigate the fatal incident.
Saoirse’s mother, Courtney, who is the fifth of Ethel and Robert Kennedy’s 11 children, met the Boston College student’s father Paul after he spent 15 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
The Irishman, along with Gerry Conlon, Paddy Armstrong, and Carole Richardson, was wrongly convicted of a bombing carried out by the IRA and the four men became known as the Guilford Four.
The group confessed to the bombing under extreme coercion by the police. Their battle for justice was immortalized in the 1993 film In the Name of the Father starring Daniel Day-Lewis.
Courtney and Paul married in 1993 and welcomed Saoirse in 1997, but separated in 2006, when their daughter was 9-years-old.
Though she had a “mostly happy” childhood, Saoirse revealed in a 2016 essay for Deerfield Academy’s student newspaper, The Deerfield Scroll, that she suffered from depression and said her struggle with mental illness would be a life-long battle.
“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 in the private Massachusetts prep school’s paper.
“Although I was mostly a happy child, I suffered bouts of deep sadness that felt like a heavy boulder on my chest.”
Saoirse also wrote that she attempted to take her own life two weeks before her junior year was scheduled to begin and later sought out treatment when the “stresses” of the school year became too much for her.
“When I’m in a really bad place, I do my best to surround myself with positive people and upbeat music, but too often it feels as if I’m drowning in my own thoughts, while everyone else seems to be breathing comfortably,” she wrote.
Just days before her death, Saoirse had spent time with her family at their Cape Cod estate.
The Kennedy compound, which was originally the home of Joseph P. Kennedy, is located in Barnstable, Massachusetts, in the residential village of Hyannis Port.
The six-acre summer estate is also about four miles south of Cape Cod and boasts a waterfront view of Nantucket Sound.
The Kennedy family often used the estate as a summer getaway and at times, a primary residence, as well as an operations base for John F. Kennedy when he was running for president in 1960, according to The New York Times.
Seven years ago, the Kennedy family donated the main house to the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate after the Senator, who lived there for several decades, passed away in 2009, the Times reported.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
If you need are struggling with addiction issues, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.
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