Saoirse Kennedy Hill died Thursday at her family's Massachusetts estate after a suspected drug overdose

By Joelle Goldstein
August 02, 2019 01:11 AM

Three years before Saoirse Kennedy Hill died at age 22 from a suspected drug overdose, she wrote an emotionally raw essay for her high school’s newspaper about her struggle with depression.

In a 2016 piece published in Deerfield Academy’s student newspaper, The Deerfield Scroll, a then-18-year-old Saoirse opened up about her longtime battle with her mental health and advocated for more conversation around the topic.

The granddaughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy also revealed in her raw essay that she had attempted to take her own life two weeks before her junior year started and later sought out treatment when the “stresses” of the school year became too much for her.

“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.”

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Though the teen admitted that her depression episodes “would come and go,” she said it particularly affected her during her sophomore year at the private Massachusetts prep school.

Saoirse Kennedy Hill and her mom Courtney
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RELATED: Robert F. Kennedy’s Granddaughter Dies of Suspected Overdose at Family’s Massachusetts Compound

“I began isolating myself in my room, pulling away from my relationships, and giving up on schoolwork,” Saoirse recalled. “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,” she added.

Unfortunately, those feelings didn’t last forever and within a few short weeks of feeling better, Saoirse shared that she attempted suicide.

“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,” she wrote. “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 Kennedy Hill
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After the incident, Saoirse returned to school but realized that she “could not handle the stresses Deerfield presented” and eventually sought out treatment at a mental health facility for one full school year.

She later returned to Deerfield for her senior year, where she became inspired to help end the stigma around mental health and promote more conversation after so many had no idea what she had gone through.

“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,” Saoirse finished her candid piece.

Saoirse Kennedy Hill
Robert F. Kennedy Jr./Instagram

The mental health advocate, who was the only daughter of Courtney Kennedy Hill and Paul Hill, tragically died on Thursday following a suspected overdose at her family’s compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.

In a statement to PEOPLE, the famous political family confirmed the tragic news just hours after paramedics rushed to the famed Cape Cod property.

“Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse. Her life was filled with hope, promise, and love,” the family said. “She cared deeply about friends and family, especially her mother Courtney, her father Paul, her stepmother Stephanie, and her grandmother Ethel.”

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Ethel, 91, also said of her grandaughter’s unexpected passing, “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.”

Just days before her death, Saoirse had spent time with her family at their famed Massachusetts estate.

In an Instagram photo captured by her uncle, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the 22-year-old was seen enjoying the sunny day as she lept into the water.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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