What Saoirse Kennedy Hill's Death Certificate Says

Under "describe how injury occurred," the document states "used mixed medications and ethanol"

It’s unknown how long, exactly, a cocktail of prescription pills and alcohol was in Saoirse Kennedy Hill‘s system before she died in August.

But, in the flatly pitiless language of official documents, her death certificate lays out what happened next: The 22-year-old granddaughter of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and the only daughter of Courtney Kennedy Hill and Paul Hill died at 3:14 p.m. on Aug. 1 in the Cape Cod Hospital’s emergency room, only a few miles from the family’s storied compound where she was found earlier that day in grandmother Ethel Kennedy‘s home.

The cause, according to her death certificate, which was made available Friday, was acute diazepam, fluoxetine, methadone, nordiazepam and norfluoxetine combined with ethanol — alcohol — toxicity.

The second page of the death certificate is more direct. Under “describe how injury occurred,” it states “used mixed medications and ethanol.”

Diazepam and fluoxetine are the generic versions of Valium and Prozac. Methadone is commonly used to treat opioid addiction.

Saoirse Kennedy
Kerry Kennedy and Saoirse Kennedy.
Saoirse Kennedy
Saoirse Kennedy Hill. Kerry Kennedy/Instagram

The “interval between onset and death” is listed as “unknown.” At Saoirse’s August memorial, however, uncle Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said in his eulogy that she “woke up with God” after falling asleep following a long night of adventuring around Hyannis Port in celebration of a finished college assignment.

There was singing, there was dancing and there was swimming at dawn. Saoirse and her friend Sinead, with whom she had spent her evening out, went to bed in the room usually claimed by Saoirse’s uncle Douglas. No one went to disturb them as noon came and went because they knew how late the pair had been out, a family friend previously told PEOPLE.

“When they finally went up” they found her unresponsive, the friend said.

Saorise was set to return to Boston College for her final year in late August.

Her uncle posted his eulogy for her — a joyous, mournful remembrance of a young woman no less exuberant for her own struggles — in full online. Of the service, the Kennedy friend told PEOPLE, “There were a lot of tears.”

Saoirse’s mother, Courtney, did not speak; her father, Paul, said his daughter “was the love of my life” before he broke down in tears, according to the family friend.

“She was a rebel,” Paul said of Saoirse, “and I loved her to death.”

Tim Shriver, Courtney’s cousin, also gave a eulogy and described Saoirse as “the daughter of two beautiful parents and dozens more mothers and fathers eager to have her.” (Like Robert, he shared his eulogy online.)

“She was an only child with a hundred brothers and sisters,” said Shriver, who is the chairman of the Special Olympics, founded by his mother, Eunice Shriver.

“If anybody ever wondered whether God loves the Kennedys, the proof is that he gave us Saoirse, this brilliant beam of light and laughter,” Robert said in his eulogy. “Now, it’s time for us to cease being sad at her passing and to practice being grateful that we had her for 22 amazing years.”

Saoirse Kennedy Hill
Saoirse Kennedy HIll
Saoirse Kennedy Hill (right) moving into Boston College. Robert Kennedy Jr./Instagram

RELATED VIDEO: Saoirse Kennedy Hill’s Father Paul Overcame His Fears to Pay Tribute to His Late Daughter

Since her death, many who knew Saoirse have spoken of her brightness and warmth and also her drive — what in other Kennedys has pushed them to be politicians and public servants. Saoirse, too, was politically and socially minded, with an activist streak. She saw the world and what could change in it; and she could be as discerning about herself. She spoke candidly about her mental health and time in treatment.

“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 the student newspaper at her private school, the elite Deerfield Academy. “Although I was mostly a happy child, I suffered bouts of deep sadness that felt like a heavy boulder on my chest.”

Like her daughter, Courtney had also grappled with depression, saying in a May radio interview, “I’ve gone in and out … my whole life. So all of you out there who suffer from depression, you’re not alone. And you can get through it, as difficult as it is.”

Saoirse spoke out in 2016 after returning to Deerfield to encourage others in helping her dismantle the stigma around mental health.

“People talk about cancer freely; why is it so difficult to discuss the effects of depression, [bipolar], 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.”

“Let’s come together to make our community more inclusive and comfortable,” she wrote.

At Saoirse’s funeral, Shriver described how the family celebrated her last birthday, in May. Saoirse had asked to have dinner outside, under the summer sky.

“And at one point, the conversation turned to that birthday talk: What does it feel like and what do you remember from your last year and that kind of thing,” Shriver said. “And then I asked [Saoirse] a slightly different question: ‘What do you want to learn in your 22nd year?’

“Without a second’s pause, she answered: ‘I want to learn to love myself.’ ”

• With reporting by JENNIFER LYNCH

Related Articles