The Kennedy family was struck with tragedy this week when 22-year-old Saoirse Kennedy Hill died of what is suspected to be an overdose. She was found at the Kennedys' Massachusetts compound. The family confirmed the young woman's death in a statement.
“Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse. Her life was filled with hope, promise, and love,” the family said. “She cared deeply about friends and family, especially her mother Courtney, her father Paul, her stepmother Stephanie, and her grandmother Ethel.”
Ethel Kennedy also released a statement on her granddaughter's passing.
“The world is a little less beautiful today," she said.
“She lit up our lives with her love, her peals of laughter and her generous spirit," the family said. "[She] 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.”
Currently, Saoirse's death is still being investigated by authorities.
“Earlier this afternoon Barnstable Police responded to a residence on Marchant Ave in Hyannis Port for a reported unattended death,” Assistant District Attorney Tara Miltimore of the Cape & Islands District Attorney’s Office says. “The matter remains under investigation by Barnstable Police and State Police detectives assigned to the District Attorney’s Office.”
Saoirse, the daughter of Courtney Kennedy Hill and Paul Hill, opened up about her struggles with mental illness in Deerfield Academy's student newspaper, The Deerfield Scroll.
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.
I began isolating myself in my room, pulling away from my relationships, and giving up on schoolwork. During the last few weeks of spring term, my sadness surrounded me constantly. But that summer after my sophomore year, my friend depression rarely came around anymore, and I was thankful for her absence.
Two weeks before my junior year began, however, my friend came back and planned to stay. 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.
I returned to school for the fall of my junior year, but I realized that I could not handle the stresses Deerfield presented. I went to treatment for my depression and returned to the valley for my senior year.
Many people are suffering, but because many people feel uncomfortable talking about it, no one is aware of the sufferers. This leaves people feeling even more alone. Since I spoke about this issue at school meeting, I have had countless people approach me, telling me that they, too, are struggling and would love to be more open about it. I am calling all members of the Deerfield community to come forward and talk freely about mental health issues. We are all either struggling or know someone who is battling an illness; let’s come together to make our community more inclusive and comfortable.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Saoirse's uncle, also posted a touching tribute to his niece, revealing that they were close enough that he considered her his daughter.
"We’ve lost our daughter and our children, their sister," he wrote. "Saoirse was fierce, both in her love for her family and yearning for justice. A fearless adventurer, she inspired curiosity and daring in her friends. But her greatest gift was to find humor in everything and to give us all the gift of her laughter - and our own. The gaping hole that she leaves in our family is a wound too large to ever heal."
Losing a family member is always hard, and when that person is young and has taken their own life, it seems like it's a pain that will never cease.