Kennedy Family Is 'Shattered' by the Suspected Overdose Death of 'Beloved' Granddaughter Saoirse, 22
"Her life was filled with hope, promise, and love,” the Kennedys said
“Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse,” the Kennedys said in a statement late Thursday following reports of a overdose at their storied Massachusetts compound.
Saoirse Kennedy Hill, whose parents are Courtney Kennedy Hill and Paul Hill, was subsequently taken to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead of a suspected overdose, according to the Boston Globe and New York Times.
She was 22.
“Her life was filled with hope, promise, and love,” the Kennedys said in their statement. “She cared deeply about friends and family, especially her mother Courtney, her father Paul, her stepmother Stephanie, and her grandmother Ethel.”
Saoirse “lit up our lives with her love, her peals of laughter and her generous spirit,” her family said.
“The world is a little less beautiful today,” said family matriarch Ethel Kennedy, 91.
A rising senior at Boston College where she was studying communications, according to the Globe and Times, Saoirse was also vice president of her school’s College Democrats.
“In classes she was often the first student to offer an opinion on readings that demanded clear critique about the challenges of contemporary society,” one of her college professors, Marcus Breen, told the Times.
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“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,” her family said.
Her aunt Kerry Kennedy posted the family’s statement on her Instagram on Friday along with photos of Saoirse throughout her life.
“Sweet Saoirse,” Kerry wrote.
Three years ago, while she was still in high school at Deerfield Academy, Saoirse wrote candidly of her own mental health struggles, including her time in a treatment facility after a suicide attempt.
“My depression took root in the beginning of my middle school years and will be with me for the rest of my life,” she wrote in a 2016 piece for her school newspaper. “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.”
She continued: “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.”
On Thursday, authorities were notified of a reported overdose around 2:30, according to the Hyannis News. Saoirse was at the home of her grandmother Ethel, the Globe reported.
Authorities told PEOPLE on Thursday that the death is being investigated by local and state police. Further details have not been released.
Saoirse’s family said Thursday night: “We will love her and miss her forever.”