Late Saoirse Kennedy Hill was DA alum

  • Saoirse Kennedy Hill, right, granddaughter of Ethel Kennedy and her late husband Robert F. Kennedy, holds a relative’s baby before a ceremony for naming the Robert Kennedy Navy Ship at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston on Sept. 20, 2016. Kennedy Hill, 22, died Thursday at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port. At left is U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, D-Mass. AP FILE PHOTO

  • Saoirse Kennedy Hill, right, granddaughter of Ethel Kennedy and her late husband Robert F. Kennedy, poses for a family group photo on Sept. 20, 2016, with her mother Courtney Kennedy Hill, left, after a ceremony for naming the Robert Kennedy Navy Ship at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. Saoirse Kennedy Hill died Thursday at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port. She was 22. AP FILE PHOTO

  • A flag flies at half-staff at the Kennedy compound on Friday in Hyannis Port. Saoirse Kennedy Hill, granddaughter of Ethel Kennedy and her late husband Robert F. Kennedy, died at the compound Thursday. She was 22. AP PHOTO

  • In this June 6, 2000 file photo, Robert F. Kennedy’s granddaughter Saoirse Kennedy Hill places a white rose at the Eternal Flame, President John F. Kennedy’s gravesite, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. Kennedy Hill died last week at age 22 at the family’s famed compound in Hyannis Port. Hill was the daughter of Robert and Ethel Kennedy’s fifth child, Courtney, and Paul Michael Hill. AP FILE

Staff Writer
Published: 8/6/2019 3:00:16 AM

DEERFIELD — The death of Saoirse Kennedy Hill last week has one of America’s most prominent political families reeling and once again seeking solace at the famed Kennedy compound.

But the 22-year-old’s untimely passing from an apparent drug overdose Thursday hits home in the Pioneer Valley more closely than many might expect, as Hill was a 2016 graduate of Deerfield Academy.

“Saoirse was bright and kind, and we are deeply saddened by this news,” said David Thiel, assistant head of school for strategy and planning at Deerfield Academy. “Saoirse was open and outspoken on topics of mental health. She was a strong and selfless advocate for others, and she was courageous in writing and speaking on deeply personal and important issues.”

Kennedy Hill, whose first name is pronounced SIR-shuh, was found unresponsive at the Kennedy compound. She was later pronounced dead at Cape Cod Hospital.

Kennedy Hill was a granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy, a U.S. senator who was assassinated in 1968 during a run for the presidency, and his wife, Ethel, who is now 91. According to The Associated Press, Kennedy Hill was the daughter of Robert and Ethel’s fifth child, Courtney, and Paul Michael Hill, who was one of four people falsely convicted in the 1974 Irish Republican Army bombings of two pubs. The two are now divorced.

According to The Boston Globe, Kennedy Hill attended Boston College, where she was a member of the Class of 2020.

She had been vocal about her battle with mental health and a suicide attempt while at Deerfield Academy. In February 2016, she wrote a column in The Deerfield Scroll, the school’s student newspaper, in which she gets candid about her struggles, describing her depression as something of a companion. She explained her world was turned upside down two weeks before her junior year started.

“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.”

Kennedy Hill used her column, which can be read at bit.ly/2Kjzcbl, to explain that though the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was designed to protect patient privacy, it prevented those around her from understanding what she was dealing with and bottling up inside herself. She also called on the Deerfield Academy community to talk more 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,” she wrote.

According to the AP, college friends and dozens of members of the famed Kennedy family converged Monday on Our Lady of Victory Church in Barnstable to pay their final respects to Kennedy Hill. Ted Kennedy Jr., former Congressman Joe Kennedy Jr. and current U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III served as pallbearers during the funeral Mass. A private burial was scheduled to follow.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.




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