Robert F. Kennedy’s granddaughter, Saoirse Kennedy Hill, died, the family announced Thursday night.
The Kennedy family’s statement followed reports of a death at the storied Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port, Mass. The statement was issued by Brian Wright O’Connor, a spokesperson for Saoirse Hill’s uncle, former congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II.
Hill was the daughter of Robert and Ethel Kennedy’s fifth child, Courtney, and Paul Michael Hill, who was one of four falsely convicted in the 1974 Irish Republican Army bombings of two pubs.
“She lit up our lives with her love, her peals of laughter and her generous spirit,” the statement said, adding that she was passionate about human rights and women’s empowerment and worked with Indigenous communities to build schools in Mexico.
We love you Saoirse <a href=”https://t.co/SWvRti0nl6″>pic.twitter.com/SWvRti0nl6</a>
She attended Boston College, where she was a member of the class of 2020, the university confirmed to the Boston Globe.
The Cape & Islands district attorney’s office said Barnstable, Mass., police responded to a home “for a reported unattended death” Thursday afternoon, according to a statement cited by news outlets. Barnstable police and Massachusetts State Police detectives assigned to the district attorney’s office are investigating.
“The world is a little less beautiful today,” the statement quoted Hill’s 91-year-old grandmother, Ethel Kennedy, as saying.
Reports of drug overdose
The family statement did not include a cause of death, but audio of a Barnstable police scanner call obtained by The Associated Press said officers were responding to a report of a drug overdose at the compound.
The New York Times cited two unnamed people described as close to the family as saying that Hill had apparently suffered an overdose. The newspaper also said she had written about struggling with mental illness while a student at a private preparatory school in Massachusetts, the Deerfield Academy, in 2016.
“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 February 2016 column in The Deerfield Scroll, the student newspaper at Deerfield Academy.
Hill wrote that she became depressed two weeks before her high school junior year started, and she “totally lost it after someone I knew and loved broke serious sexual boundaries with me.” She wrote that she pretended it hadn’t happened, and when it became too much, “I attempted to take my own life.”
She urged the school to be more open about mental illness.
Hill also helped found a group at the school called Deerfield Students Against Sexual Assault, according to a November 2016 story in the paper, and she attended a March for Our Lives gun violence prevention rally in Barnstable in March 2018, The Barnstable Patriot newspaper reported at the time.
Robert F. Kennedy — then a U.S. senator for New York — was gunned down in Los Angeles in 1968 after winning California’s presidential primary. He had served as attorney general in the administration of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in Dallas in 1963.