Saoirse Kennedy Hill, the granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy, died at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts Thursday. She was 22.
The Kennedy family confirmed her death in a statement to the Associated Press, saying, "Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse."
"She lit up our lives with her love, her peals of laughter and her generous spirit," the statement said, noting that Hill was passionate about human rights, women's empowerment and volunteer work in indigenous communities. "We will love her and miss her forever."
Hill was the only child of Courtney Kennedy Hill, the fifth of Robert and Ethel Kennedy's eleven children. Hill's father is Paul Michael Hill, one of four falsely convicted in the 1974 Irish Republican Army bombings of two pubs.
Robert’s widow Ethel, 91, said the "world is a little less beautiful today" following her granddaughter's sudden death.
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District Attorney Michael O’Keefe for Massachusetts' Cape & Islands District confirmed her death in a statement to USA TODAY, saying police responded at 3 p.m. on Thursday to a call about "an unresponsive female, later identified as Saoirse Kennedy Hill."
"Hill was transported to Cape Cod Hospital where she was pronounced deceased," the statement reads. "The cause and manner of death are pending the toxicology report."
Hill was a member of Boston College's class of 2020, the university confirmed to the Boston Globe. Before that, she attended Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Massachusetts, where she opened up about her struggles with mental illness.
"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 a 2016 essay for the school's student newspaper. "Although I was mostly a happy child, I suffered bouts of deep sadness that felt like a heavy boulder on my chest."
Hill revealed that she "attempted to take my own life" two weeks before her junior year began and took a "medical leave" from school to receive treatment for depression. She said she returned to Deerfield Academy her senior year.
"Just because the illness may not be outwardly visible doesn’t mean the person suffering from it isn’t struggling," she wrote. "Let’s come together to make our community more inclusive and comfortable."
Saoirse's death adds to the compendium of tragedies that have befallen the Kennedy family, exemplifying the so-called "Kennedy curse." Among such tragedies is the assassination of her grandfather, "Bobby" Kennedy, who was killed the same night he won the New York and California presidential primaries in the 1968 election. Bobby's death was preceded by the assassination of his brother, former president Kennedy, in 1963.
Other members of the Kennedy family have died from other causes, including plane crashes, World War II combat, alcohol and drug addiction, and various other accidents. Those individuals include a brother and sister of former president John and congressman Bobby, as well as the former president's son, wife, and sister-in-law.
Additionally, last month marked the 50th anniversary of the Chappaquiddick incident, in which Edward "Ted" Kennedy, then a senator, drove off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island in Martha's Vineyard. Though he survived, his 28-year-old passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, was killed.
Saoirse's uncle, David Anthony Kennedy, struggled with alcohol and drug addiction and was found dead in 1984 at a Palm Beach hotel, the Times reported. Thirty years afterward, Saoirse wrote an online message to her uncle, in which she called him a "kind and gentle spirit who went through unimaginable struggles" in his life, according to the Times.
Contributing: Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Robert F. Kennedy's granddaughter, Saoirse Hill, dies at 22