Robert F. Kennedy’s granddaughter, Saoirse Kennedy Hill, has died at the age of 22 at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, the family said late Aug. 1.
Hill was the daughter of Robert and Ethel Kennedy’s fifth child, Courtney, and Paul Michael Hill.
“Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse. Her life was filled with hope, promise, and love,” the family said in a statement. “She cared deeply about friends and family, especially her mother Courtney, her father Paul, her stepmother Stephanie, and her grandmother Ethel.”
The statement quoted Hill’s 91-year-old grandmother, Ethel Kennedy as saying: “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.”
The family statement was issued by Brian Wright O’Connor, a spokesman for Hill’s uncle, former Massachusetts congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II. The statement did not mention a cause of death.
Emergency crew had earlier on Thursday afternoon responded to a medical call to the Kennedy compound, according to the Hyannis News. The outlet reported, citing radio transmissions that one of the first police officers on scene said the patient had suffered from cardiac arrest.
Hill was taken to Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis and was pronounced dead at the hospital, the New York Times reported.
Methadone was reportedly found near Hill’s body, a law enforcement source told Boston 25 News. The outlet reported that she died of a suspected overdose.
According to the outlet, the Cape & Islands District Attorney’s Office said Barnstable police responded to a home “for a reported unattended death” in the afternoon of Aug. 1.
“Earlier this afternoon, Barnstable Police responded to a residence on Marchant Ave in Hyannisport for a reported unattended death,” Assistant District Attorney Tara Miltimore said in the statement cited by the outlet. “The matter remains under investigation by Barnstable Police and State Police detectives assigned to the District Attorney’s Office.”
Hill attended Boston College, where she was was a communication major and a member of the class of 2020. She was also vice president of the Student Democrats.
In 2016, while Hill was a student at Deerfield Academy, she shared in an opinion piece her experiences battling mental illness and depression, and having attempted suicide. In the article, she wrote about a sexual assault that eventually led to her attempting suicide.
“My sense of well-being was already compromised, and I totally lost it after someone I knew and loved broke serious sexual boundaries with me. I did the worst thing a victim can do, and I pretended it hadn’t happened. This all became too much, and I attempted to take my own life,” she wrote.
The piece ends with a call to the school community to speak more openly about mental health issues.
Hill’s father was among four men falsely convicted in the 1974 Irish Republican Army bombings of two pubs. His conviction was eventually overturned but he had spent 15 years in prison by then.
Robert F. Kennedy was the 64th United States Attorney General from 1961 to 1964, and a U.S. Senator from 1965 until he was assassinated in 1968.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.