New Details Released in the Death of RFK's Granddaughter - NBC4 Washington
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New Details Released in the Death of RFK's Granddaughter

"Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse," the Kennedy family said in a statement

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    NEWSLETTERS

    RFK's Granddaughter Dies at 22

    22-year-old Saoirse Kennedy Hill has died, her family confirms.

    (Published Friday, Aug. 2, 2019)

    Officials released new details Friday about the death of Robert F. Kennedy's granddaughter.

    The Kennedy family confirmed the death of 22-year-old Saoirse Kennedy Hill in a statement Thursday night after police responded to a call about a possible drug overdose at the storied Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. The statement was issued by Brian Wright O'Connor, a spokesman for Saoirse Hill's uncle, former congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II.

    The Kennedy family's statement followed reports of a death at the storied Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. The statement was issued by Brian Wright O'Connor, a spokesman for Saoirse Hill's uncle, former congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II.

    The Cape & Islands district attorney's office said in a new statement Friday that Barnstable police responded to a home on Marchant Avenue in Hyannis Port around 3 p.m. Thursday for an unresponsive female, later identified as Hill. She was transported to Cape Cod Hospital and later pronounced dead. Barnstable police and Massachusetts State Police detectives assigned to the district attorney's office are investigating.

    The district attorney said an autopsy performed Friday revealed "no trauma inconsistent with lifesaving measures." The cause and manner of death are pending a toxicology report.

    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.

    She attended Boston College, where she was a member of the class of 2020. The college issued a statement Friday saying she was a communications major and "a gifted student."

    "She was also active in the College Democrats, and had many friends on the BC campus," spokesman Jack Dunn said.

    The family has not revealed any information about the cause of death. However, The New York Times reports Hill died of an apparent drug overdose, citing two family members. NBC News has not confirmed the report.

    "The world is a little less beautiful today," the statement quoted Hill's 91-year-old grandmother, Ethel Kennedy, as saying.

    Hill had written frankly and publicly about her struggles with mental health and a suicide attempt while in high school. "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, the elite private school in western Massachusetts she attended.

    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.

    Robert F. Kennedy was gunned down in Los Angeles in 1968 after winning California's Democratic 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. He also served as a U.S. senator from New York.

    RFK's family, like the rest of the Kennedy dynasty, has been touched by tragedy.

    One of his and Ethel Kennedy's 11 children, Michael Kennedy, was killed in a skiing accident in Aspen, Colorado, on New Year's Eve 1997 at age 39. And in 1984, another son, David Anthony Kennedy, died of a drug overdose in Florida at age 28.

    JFK's son, John F. Kennedy Jr., was killed with his wife and sister-in-law when his small plane crashed off Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, in July 1999.

    One of Hill's relatives, former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, who is now an advocate for substance abuse and mental health treatment, tweeted in tribute to her Friday.

    "Saoirse will always remain in our hearts. She is loved and will be deeply missed," he wrote.