Robert F. Kennedy's Granddaughter Dies After Overdose 

By Kelly Burch 08/02/19

Saoirse Kennedy Hill was 22.

Robert F. Kennedy's granddaughter Saoirse Kennedy Hill
Saoirse Kennedy Hill

Robert F. Kennedy’s granddaughter, who spoke openly as a high schooler about her struggles with depression and suicide, was found dead of an apparent overdose at the family’s summer home near Cape Cod, Massachusetts yesterday. Saoirse Kennedy Hill was 22. 

Hill was the daughter of Courtney Kennedy Hill, 62, and Paul Hill, 65, and the granddaughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy and his wife Ethel, 91. 

Emergency responders went to the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis, Massachusetts at about 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon. Hill was transported to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The family confirmed the death to People

“Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse. Her life was filled with hope, promise, and love,” the family statement said. “She cared deeply about friends and family, especially her mother Courtney, her father Paul, her stepmother Stephanie, and her grandmother Ethel.”

Ethel Remembers

Ethel Kennedy remembered her granddaughter’s passions. 

“The world is a little less beautiful today. She lit up our lives with her love, her peals of laughter and her generous spirit,” Kennedy said. “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 police said that the matter remains under investigation. 

Three years ago, Hill wrote an essay for the newspaper at her private high school, Deerfield Academy, detailing 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. “Although I was mostly a happy child, I suffered bouts of deep sadness that felt like a heavy boulder on my chest.”

Coping With Mental Illness

In that essay, she revealed that she had a suicide attempt just before her junior year. Since then, she was taking her health into her own hands, she said. “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.”

In the days before Hill died she seemed to be doing just that. Her uncle Robert F. Kennedy Jr. posted an Instagram photo of her jumping from a sailboat into the ocean (the picture seems to have since been taken down). 

This isn’t the first time that the Kennedy family has been touched by tragedy, or addiction. Patrick Kennedy, the nephew of Hill’s grandfather, has become an outspoken advocate for addiction and mental health treatment, after getting into recovery himself. 

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.