Kennedy Family Granddaughter Saoirse Hill Wrote Letter About Battle With Depression 3 Years Prior to Death

Saoirse Kennedy Hill, granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy, passed away on Thursday, Aug. 1 at her family's compound in Massachusetts, and her cause of death has not yet been announced. In 2016, Hill wrote an essay for her high school newspaper, The Deerfield Scroll, about her battle with depression, titling the piece "Mental Illness at Deerfield."

In her essay, Hill revealed that her depression began when she was in middle school, explaining that while she "was mostly a happy child, I suffered bouts of deep sadness that felt like a heavy boulder on my chest."

Her depression began to affect her when she was a sophomore at Deerfield, when she began "isolating myself in my room, pulling away from my relationships, and giving up on schoolwork. During the last few weeks of spring term, my sadness surrounded me constantly."

While her depression lessened during that summer, it returned just before Hill was due to start her junior year.

"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 revealed. "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."

Hill, the daughter of Courtney Kennedy Hill and Paul Hill, took medical leave shortly after beginning the fall semester and returned to the Massachusetts prep school for her senior year after going to treatment for her depression.

"Coming back from medical leave was definitely not what I expected," she wrote. "I saw a stark contrast between my treatment facility — a place full of aware and accepting people — and my experience at Deerfield. Although my friends were extremely supportive, they seemed to be the only ones who knew what had been going on in my life for the past year."

The then-teenager offered examples of what to say to someone who may be struggling, as well as what not to say.

"If someone confides in you, try not to say, 'It's all in your mind,' or 'lighten up,' or, my personal favorite, 'Happiness is a choice,'" she wrote. "No, it's really not. When I'm in a really bad place, I do my best to surround myself with positive people and upbeat music, but too often it feels as if I'm drowning in my own thoughts, while everyone else seems to be breathing comfortably."

"Many people are suffering, but because many people feel uncomfortable talking about it, no one is aware of the sufferers," Hill concluded. "I am calling all members of the Deerfield community to come forward and talk 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."

The 22-year-old's death was reported on Thursday after paramedics responded to an emergency on the family compound.

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"Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse. Her life was filled with hope, promise and love," her family said in a statement, via CNN, with grandmother Ethel Kennedy adding, "The world is a little less beautiful today."

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