RFK's Granddaughter, Saoirse Kennedy Hill, Dead At 22

Saoirse Kennedy Hill, the granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy, died of an apparent drug overdose at the Kennedy Massachusetts compound in Hyannis Port (via CNN). She was 22.

The Kennedy family confirmed the death in a statement on Aug. 1, 2019, following reports that a person had been found unresponsive at Kennedy compound after police responded to a call about a possible drug overdose. 

"Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse," read the statement, later posted on Instagram. "Her life was filled with hope, promise and love." The statement quoted Ethel Kennedy, 91, Robert F. Kennedy's widow, as saying, "The world is a little less beautiful today." It also revealed that Saoirse Kennedy Hill had volunteered to build schools in Mexico and was "moved by the causes of human rights and women's empowerment."

According to The New York Times, Kennedy Hill was a communications at major Boston College who served as the vice president of the College Democrats. Professor Marcus Breen remembered the young member of the Kennedy family as an advocate for social justice. 

"In classes she was often the first student to offer an opinion on readings that demanded clear critique about the challenges of contemporary society," he said. Breen also recalled Kennedy Hill approaching after the class to question whether a "conversation on feminism and rape culture" was appropriate. She feared that some students in the course might be victims of sexual assault. "It was an expression of her concern for others," Breen continued. "She will be missed on campus and in class."

Much like her grandfather, former New York Senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Kennedy Hill took her political activism to the streets as well. She attended the 2018 March For Our Lives rally in Boston with her mother, Courtney Kennedy Hill (via The Heavy), who addressed the crowd. "He and I are the product of gun violence, and we are damaged goods," she said of her father, Robert Kennedy.

Four years before her tragic death, Kennedy Hill penned an emotional essay for her high school's The Deerfield Scroll newspaper about her struggles with depression. 

"My depression took root in the beginning of my middle school years and will be with me for the rest of my life," Saoirse wrote. "Although I was mostly a happy child, I suffered bouts of deep sadness that felt like a heavy boulder on my chest." She also revealed that she attempted to take her own life two weeks before her junior year started and sought treatment as a result. She ended the by essay advocating for more discussion about mental health issues at her school to help those suffering in silence. "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," she wrote.

Kennedy Hill's death is just another in a long line of tragedies America's most famous political dynasty has suffered. Known as the "Kennedy curse," the untimely deaths of members of the Kennedy have shocked the nation for almost a century (via The New York Times). Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. was shot down in WWII at the age of 29. Kathleen Kennedy, the sister of JFK and RFK, died in a plane crash in 1948 at the age of 28. Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, the prematurely born son of JFK and Jacqueline Onassis, died less than two days after his birth. His father was assassinated three months later. Five years after JFK's death, Robert F. Kennedy shared his brother's fate at the age of 42. In 1984, RFK's son, David Kennedy, died of a drug overdose in Florida at the age of 28. His brother, Michael Kennedy, died 13 years later in a skiing accident at the age of 39. In 1999, JFK's son, John F. Kennedy, Jr., died at the age of 38 when the plane he was piloting crashed in the Atlantic Ocean.

In a 1993 interview (via The New York Times), JFK Jr. said the "difficulties and hardships" in their family's history draw them closer to each other. But is the Kennedy family indeed cursed? Massachusetts psychotherapist Melody Masi believes that not to be the case. "Certainly those tragedies have equally affected other families, but [the Kennedys] are the people who are in the public eye," she told the Cape Cod Times. "Other people are not known."