Saoirse Kennedy Hill, 22, a granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy, died after an apparent drug overdose at the family’s Hyannis Port, MA, compound on Thursday afternoon, The New York Times reported. Kennedy Hill was pronounced dead after paramedics responded to calls about an “unattended death.”
“The matter remains under investigation by the Barnstable police as well as state police detectives assigned to the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office,” the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
Kennedy Hill was a communications major at Boston College, where she was also the vice president of the College Democrats and an outspoken advocate of the #MeToo movement, and was set to graduate next year. She was the only daughter of Courtney Kennedy Hill, one of Robert and Ethel Kennedy's 11 children, and Paul Hill, who was imprisoned for 15 years after being falsely convicted in connection to bombings by the Irish Republican Army in 1974.
The 22-year-old’s death is the latest in a string of tragic events to hit the Kennedy family, which Ted Kennedy once speculated might be cursed after both John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy were assassinated in the 1960s. Kennedy Hill herself made headlines in 2007, after a possible kidnapping attempt in Cape Cod.
The New York Times reported that when Kennedy Hill was in high school, she described her struggles with mental illness in an op-ed for the school newspaper. "My depression took root in the beginning of my middle school years and will be with me for the rest of my life. 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 wrote. In the article, Kennedy Hill urged her peers to open up about their own struggles with mental health, and explained her decision to leave school temporarily to seek treatment.
Drug overdose deaths — particularly from opioids — for adolescents and young adults have been on the rise over the last 10 years, according to new research in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. According to the study, deaths from drug poisoning for people between ages 15 and 24 have risen by 4.8% on average every year from 2006 to 2015.
“Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse,” Kennedy Hill’s aunt Kerry Kennedy wrote in an Instagram post. “Her life was filled with hope, promise, and love… 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.”
Kennedy Hill's grandmother Ethel Kennedy said in the statement: "The world is a little less beautiful today."
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