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Saoirse Kennedy Hill, RFK granddaughter, is dead, family says

Image: Saoirse Kennedy Hill obit
Robert F. Kennedy's granddaughter Saoirse Kennedy Hill, then age 3, places a white rose at President John F. Kennedy's gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, in June 2000. Copyright Hillery Smith Garrison AP file
Copyright Hillery Smith Garrison AP file
By Alex Johnson with NBC News U.S. News
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Saoirse Kennedy Hill, 22, one of Robert and Ethel Kennedy's 35 grandchildren, wrote about her depression-induced suicide attempt in 2016.


Police in Massachusetts confirmed Thursday night that they are investigating a death at the Kennedy political family's compound in Hyannis Port. A short time later, the Kennedy family announced the death of Saoirse Kennedy Hill, one of Robert and Ethel Kennedy's 35 grandchildren.

The Cape and Islands District Attorney's Office said Barnstable police responded on Thursday to a residence on Marchant Avenue in Hyannis Port for a reported unattended death. The three mansions that make up the Kennedy compound line Marchant Avenue along Nantucket Sound.

Evan Agostini
Saoirse Kennedy Hill, then age 9, with her mother, Courtney Kennedy Hill, at the Speak Truth To Power Memorial Benefit Gala in New York in October 2006.Evan Agostini

Authorities didn't identify the victim and gave no further details. Later Thursday night, the Kennedy family said in a statement that Hill, 22, was dead, quoting Ethel Kennedy, 91, as saying, "The world is a little less beautiful today."

The New York Times, citing two family members, reported that Hill died of an apparent drug overdose. NBC News has not confirmed the report.

"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," the family's statement said. "We will love her and miss her forever."

Hill was the daughter of Paul Hill and Courtney Kennedy, the fifth of 11 children of Ethel Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, the former U.S. attorney general who was assassinated as he sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968.

Paul Hill is known as one of the "Guildford Four," four Irish nationals who were unjustly convicted of bombings in Northern Ireland connected to the Irish Republican Army, or IRA, a miscarriage of justice that was chronicled in the 1993 movie "In the Name of the Father." The four men were later found to have had no connection to the IRA.

Hillery Smith Garrison
Robert F. Kennedy\'s granddaughter Saoirse Kennedy Hill, then age 3, places a white rose at President John F. Kennedy\'s gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, in June 2000.Hillery Smith Garrison

Saoirse Hill, a former vice president of College Democrats at Boston College, where she majored in communications, was a spokeswoman for awareness of depression and mental illness.

In a 2016 article for The Deerfield Scroll, the student newspaper at Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Massachusetts, Hill wrote that she attempted suicide before her junior year at the institution.

"People talk about cancer freely; why is it so difficult to discuss the effects of depression, bi-polar, anxiety, or schizophrenic disorders?" she wrote.

"Just because the illness may not be outwardly visible doesn't mean the person suffering from it isn't struggling," she wrote.

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