Saoirse Kennedy dies aged 22 of suspected overdose at family compound

Robert F. Kennedy’s 22-year-old granddaughter Saoirse dies of a suspected drug overdose at the family’s six-acre Cape Cod compound

  • Saoirse Roisin Kennedy-Hill died aged 22 a suspected drug overdose at the Kennedy Compound on Cape Cod just after 2.30pm Thursday
  • ‘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’ 
  • Paramedics arrived on the scene and found the patient in cardiac arrest 
  • Saoirse was transported to Cape Cod Hospital, where she was pronounced dead
  • Barnstable police are now investigating 
  • Saorsie is the daughter of Courtney Kennedy Hill and Paul Michael Hill and the granddaughter of the late Robert F Kennedy and his wife Ethel 
  • Ethel Kennedy lives at the home where the alleged overdose occurred 
  • Saoirse revealed her struggle with depression and mental illness in 2016 
  • The Kennedy Compound consists of multiple homes across six acres of waterfront property on Cape Code along Nantucket Sound in Hyannis Port 

Saoirse Roisin Kennedy-Hill has been identified as the young woman who died of a possible drug overdose at the Kennedy Compound on Cape Cod. She was 22 years old. 

‘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.’

The statement quoted Saoirse’s grandmother, Ethel Kennedy, as saying: ‘The world is a little less beautiful today.’

Paramedics responding to a call of a suspected overdose just after 2.30pm Thursday arrived at the scene and found the patient in cardiac arrest.  

The woman was transported to Cape Cod Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, according to local media. 

Barnstable police are now investigating. 

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Saoirse Kennedy Hill (pictured) has been identified as the young woman who died of a possible drug overdose at the Kennedy Compound on Cape Cod. She was 22 years old

Saoirse is seen with her mother Courtney Kennedy Hill at the family compound in 2016

Saoirse is seen on the family’s boat in an Instagram photo posted by her uncle Robert F Kennedy Jr over the weekend

Saorsie’s father is Paul Hill, an Irishman who was one of the Guildford Four, a group of men wrongly convicted of bombings carried out by the IRA in 1974. Hill and Courtney Kennedy (above together) married in 1993 and welcomed their only daughter in 1997

Paramedics responding to a call of a suspected overdose just after 2.30pm Thursday arrived at the scene (pictured) and found the patient in cardiac arrest

The Kennedy Compound consists of multiple homes across six acres of waterfront property along Nantucket Sound in Hyannis Port 

Saorsie is the daughter of Courtney Kennedy Hill and granddaughter of the late Robert F Kennedy and his wife Ethel, who lives at the home where the alleged overdose occurred.  

While she was attending boarding school at Deerfield Academy in 2016, Saorsie penned an article for the student paper about her struggles with depression and mental illness. 

KENNEDY FAMILY STATEMENT ON SAOIRSE’S DEATH 

‘Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse. Her life was filled with hope, promise and love. She cared deeply about her friends and family, especially her mother Courtney, her father Paul, her stepmother Stephanie, and her grandmother Ethel, who said, ‘The world is a little less beautiful today. 

‘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.’ 

She revealed that she was sexually assaulted by a friend during her junior year and attempted to take her own life.  

Saorsie underwent treatment for depression before returning to school. In the article, which she penned during her senior year, she described feeling unsettled and lonely because few people on campus knew about her illness.  

She said her depression ‘took root in the beginning of my middle school years and will be with me for the rest of my life’.  

Saorsie went on to enroll at Boston College, where she was a communication major and vice president of the College Democrats. 

Her father is Paul Michael Hill, an Irishman who was one of the Guildford Four, a group of men wrongly convicted of bombings carried out by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) in 1974. 

Hill and Courtney Kennedy married in 1993 and welcomed their only daughter – whose name means ‘freedom’ in Irish – in 1997. They lived in Ireland from 2002 until 2006, the year they legally separated.  

Saoirse and Courtney Kennedy are seen outside the White House in 2015

Saorsie is pictured at 18 years old before her high school prom in May 2016

The incident reportedly took place at 28 Marchant Avenue, a home belonging to Ethel Kennedy

The overdose incident took place at 28 Marchant Avenue, a home belonging to Ethel Kennedy, the 91-year-old widow of late US Senator Robert F Kennedy.  

The law enforcement response drew attention from neighbors outside the property.  

The Kennedy Compound consists of multiple homes across six acres of waterfront property along Nantucket Sound in Hyannis Port. 

It has been home to multiple members of the political powerhouse Kennedy clan for several decades. 

Joseph and Rose Kennedy, parents to John, Robert and Edward, bought the first home at 50 Marchant Ave in 1928. 

Ted Kennedy added the second home at 28 Marchant Ave in 1955 and sold it to his brother Robert in 1961.  

It is worth an estimated $2.3million.  

The Kennedy family is no stranger to tragedy, having lost several members under unusual circumstances over the years. 

In 1963, then-President John F Kennedy was assassinated.

JFK’s brother, presidential candidate and US Senator Robert F Kennedy was killed by an assassin five years later in 1968.

Another brother, Joseph P Kennedy Jr was killed in World War II, and their sister Kathleen Cavendish died in a plane crash in 1948. 

The president’s son, John F Kennedy Jr, was killed in a plane crash in 1999 off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, along with his wife and sister-in-law.  

Robert F and Ethel Kennedy’s son David Anthony died of an overdose at age 28 in 1984. Their other son, Michael Kennedy, died aged 39 in a skiing accident in 1997.  

Edward ‘Ted’ Kennedy was involved in an accident in Martha’s Vineyard in 1969 that left a young woman dead. 

The US senator drove off a bridge on the tiny island of Chappaquiddick. He got out of the water but his passenger, 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne, did not. 

Ted pleaded guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident causing personal injury. 

Kopechne was a respected political operative who had worked on the presidential campaign of Robert F Kennedy.  

 The Kennedy Compound consists of multiple homes across six acres of waterfront property along Nantucket Sound in Hyannis Port

The Kennedy clan is seen celebrating the Fourth of July at the compound earlier this month

The Kennedy family is no stranger to tragedy, having lost several members under unusual circumstances over the years. In 1963, then-President John F Kennedy was assassinated. JFK’s brother, presidential candidate and US Senator Robert F Kennedy was killed by an assassin five years later in 1968. The brothers are pictured together in 1963 

Saoirse’s father Paul Hill and the three other members of the Guildford Four served 14 years of a life sentence for the attack which killed five people and injured 65, before their convictions were overturned in 1989. Hill is seen arriving at appeals court that year with Courtney Kennedy (center) and her mother Ethel (right)

Saoirse is seen placing a white rose at the Eternal Flame, President John F Kennedy’s gravesite, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, in 2000

Saoirse’s father Paul Hill and the three other members of the Guildford Four served 14 years of a life sentence for the attack which killed five people and injured 65, before their convictions were overturned in 1989.  

The high-profile deadly attack in Guildford – along with ones in Woolwich and Birmingham – in 1974 became better known for the huge miscarriages of justices they led to in the aftermath, with the public demanding the perpetrators be brought to justice.

Hill, Gerry Conlon, Paddy Armstrong and Carole Richardson were jailed in 1975 for the attack on the Horse and Groom pub in Guildford which killed four soldiers and a civilian and injured scores more. Hill and Armstrong were also jailed for the Woolwich bombing in which two people died.

In a separate trial, The Birmingham Six – Paddy Joe Hill, Hugh Callaghan, Richard McIlkenny, Gerry Hunter, Billy Power and Johnny Walker – were convicted for carrying out the Midlands bombings.

Later Giuseppe, and members of the Maguire family – who became known as the Maguire Seven – were arrested and jailed for possessing and supplying the IRA with the explosives for the bombs.

But all those involved protested their innocence and after years of campaigning their convictions were overturned.

In October 1989 the Court of Appeal quashed the sentences of the Guildford Four after they had served 14 years behind bars, amid doubts raised about the police evidence against them.

An investigation into the case by Avon and Somerset Police found serious flaws in the way Surrey Police handled the case. 

In July 2000 the Prime Minister Tony Blair became the first senior politician to apologise to the Guildford Four.

In a letter sent to Paul Hill’s wife, Courtney Kennedy,  he wrote: ‘There were miscarriages of justice in your husband’s case, and the cases of those convicted with him. I am very sorry indeed that this should have happened.’ 

The acclaimed 1993 film In The Name Of The Father, starring Daniel Day Lewis, was based on the Guildford Four.  

  • If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.  
  •  For confidential support, call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local branch. See www.samaritans.org for details.
  • For confidential support in Australia LIFELINE: 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au  or Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800

Saoirse Roisin Kennedy-Hill opens up about her struggles with depression in 2016

Saoirse Roisin Kennedy-Hill penned the article below for Deerfield Academy’s The Deerfield Scroll in February 2016 when she was a senior at the prestigious boarding school in Massachusetts.

Mental Illness at Deerfield 

When you were little, did you ever have friends your mom made you hang out with, even though you didn’t want to? Then those friends kept showing up, and you were confused and sick of them. Soon enough, those friends were around so much that you got used to them. Finally, those friends were always with you and never left, and you almost began to enjoy having them around.

Until last year, this was my relationship with my mental illness.

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.

We all know that some people find winter at Deerfield lonely, dark, and long. 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.

Coming back from medical leave was definitely not what I expected. I saw a stark contrast between my treatment facility—a place full of aware and accepting people—and my experience at Deerfield. Although my friends were extremely supportive, they seemed to be the only ones who knew what had been going on in my life for the past year.

Dr. Josh Relin, Director of Counseling at Deerfield, has explained to me that federal laws designed to protect patient privacy constrain what information can be shared in workplaces and schools. “There is a strong firewall between what happens in the Health Center and the other adults in the community due to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act),” he said. “This law determines how health information can and cannot be shared.”

HIPAA was designed to protect patient privacy, yet in my experience, it left me feeling very much alone.

I didn’t care that students thought that I had left because of an eating disorder, or that I had been bullied, but it concerned me that my teachers and advisors didn’t know what I had been going through. Even though it was helpful for me to discuss my struggles with all of those important people in my life, it was still uncomfortable, and it was hard for me to take the initiative. In the future, I hope that the Health Center reaches out to students before they return from medical leave in order to discuss how the school can make their adjustment back to Deerfield less difficult. If they had reached out to me, I would have let them know that I wanted my circumstances shared with my teachers and advisors before I returned to campus; this would have made my transition back a lot easier.

Deerfield is one of the top educational institutions in the country, yet no one seems to know how to talk about mental illness. People talk about cancer freely; why is it so difficult to discuss the effects of depression, bi-polar, anxiety, or schizophrenic disorders? Just because the illness may not be outwardly visible doesn’t mean the person suffering from it isn’t struggling. I have experienced a lot of stigma surrounding mental health on Deerfield’s campus. As students, we have the power to end that immediately. Stigma places blame on the person suffering from the illness and makes them ashamed to talk openly about what they’re going through.

Teachers and students on our campus can do their best to be more aware when discussing mental health issues. If someone says they’re feeling depressed, a good way to respond would be, “What are some other things you’re feeling? What do you think has brought this on?” If you don’t feel comfortable saying either of those, say, “I don’t understand what you’re going through, but I am here for support.” Too often, people speak before they think, and that can damage the trust in a relationship. If someone confides in you, try not to say, “It’s all in your mind,” or “lighten up,” or, my personal favorite, “Happiness is a choice.” No, it’s really not. When I’m in a really bad place, I do my best to surround myself with positive people and upbeat music, but too often it feels as if I’m drowning in my own thoughts, while everyone else seems to be breathing comfortably.

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.

Read the article on The Deerfield Scroll website here.

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