UPDATE, 11/1/19, 2:16pm ET: Saoirse Kennedy Hill’s cause of death has been revealed. The 22-year-old granddaughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy died of an accidental overdose from a toxic cocktail of drugs, according to a coroner’s report, which comes three months after her death. The toxicology report found methadone, alcohol, and prescription drugs in her system: fluoxetine, norfluoxetine, diazepam, and nordazepam. Diazepam is used to treat anxiety; fluoxetine is an antidepressant. Methadone is used to treat opioid addiction.
ORIGINAL: Another tragedy has befallen the Kennedy family. The late Senator Robert F. Kennedy‘s 22-year-old granddaughter, Saoirse Kennedy Hill, was pronounced dead on August 1 after experiencing a supposed overdose at the famed Kennedy compound, the famed family home, in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. Saoirse, who suffered from depression for years, was the daughter of one of RFK’s 11 children, Courtney Kennedy Hill, and ex-husband Paul Hill. Saoirse’s death was confirmed by the Kennedy family, the Hyannis police, and the Hyannis ADA. Here’s what you should know about Saoirse and what happened:
1. Saoirse’s tragic death was confirmed on August 2 in a statement. “Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse,” the Kennedy family said in a statement. “Her life was filled with hope, promise and love. She cared deeply about friends and family, especially her mother Courtney, her father Paul, her stepmother Stephanie, and her grandmother, Ethel Kennedy. She lit up our lives with her love, her peals of laughter and her generous spirit. 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 statement included a quote Saoirse’s grandmother Ethel, Robert F. Kennedy‘s 91-year-old widow: “The world is a little less beautiful today.” Police also confirmed Saoirse’s death, but did not name her in their statement, according to The New York Times. The department confirmed “reported unintended death” in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, on the same street as the Kennedy residence. They will be launching an investigation into the incident, according to a spokeswoman with the Cape & Islands District Attorney’s Office who spoke with CNN. The Hyannis Fire Lt. David Webb told CNN that that EMS were called to the Kennedy compound at 28 Marchant Avenue for a medical emergency on August 1. An individual was taken to the Cape Cod Hospital. It is unclear why 911 was called.
2. She was a student at Boston College. Saoirse attended Boston College, where she was a communication major and vice president of the College Democrats. She took after grandmother Ethel as a dedicated activist. She participated in the 2018 March For Our Lives following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, among other protests. Her family said in their statement that she was “passionately moved by the causes of human rights and women’s empowerment and found great joy in volunteer work.”
3. She spoke openly about her struggles with mental illness and how it got worse after a sexual assault in high school. Saoirse penned an article in 2016 for the student newspaper at Deerfield Academy, a private Massachusetts preparatory school, which detailed how depression affected in her day-to-day life. Depression, she wrote, “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.”
Saoirse went on to write that she tried to ignore her depression, and things seemed to get better until two weeks before her junior year in high school began, when her depression “came back and planned to stay.” Things got worse when someone she “knew and loved” broke “serious sexual boundaries” with her. “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.” Saoirse said she entered a treatment facility for her depression sometime during her junior year, and came back to school when she was a senior.
4. Her father, Paul Michael Hill, is one of the Guildford Four. Saoirse spent part of her childhood in Ireland with her Irish father, according to the New York Times. Her father is one of the Guildford Four, individuals who were falsely accused of involvement in Irish Republican Army bombings at a pub in England, in 1974. He spent 15 years in prison, until his conviction was overturned in 1993. Paul and Saoirse’s mother married in 1994; they separated in 2006.
5. Saoirse’s death is the latest in a string of tragedies to befall the Kennedy family. Several members of the Kennedy family have died young, and in horrifying circumstances. JFK was assassinated in 1963. RFK, a senator and presidential candidate, was assassinated in 1968. Their brother Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. was killed in World War II, while their sister Kathleen Cavendish died in a plane crash in 1948. JFK’s son, John F. Kennedy Jr., and his wife Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy were killed in a plane crash in 1999. David Anthony Kennedy died of an overdose in 1984.