Patrick Kennedy is speaking out about the sudden death of his cousin, Saoirse Kennedy Hill, and the need to focus on the topic of mental health.
The Daily Mail reported that Kennedy, 52, a former politician, called his cousin a hero for being so forthright about her struggles with her own mental health issues. He explains that there is a need for the “stigma and isolation” to come to an end so that people are more willing to seek help.
Hill, a Boston College senior, had previously described how she sought treatment after she attempted to take her own life two weeks before her junior year began at the prestigious preparatory school, Deerfield Academy, in an essay for her school’s student paper. But on Thursday night, she was found unresponsive at her grandmother Ethel Kennedy’s home on the family’s Hyannis Port compound and was later taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Patrick Kennedy praised his cousin, saying that she worked to make her friends feel comfortable to talk about their own mental health struggles and to not feel ashamed.
“She’s a real hero in my family, she broke the silence, we mourn her loss but her memory will live on as someone who wasn’t going to keep silent and wasn’t going to be feeling as if she had something shameful but rather something medical that she sought treatment for.”
Kennedy continued saying that these struggles touch all Americans.
“This affects every single family in America, it’s way past time that we deal with this in a way that we would deal with any other public health crisis.”
Kennedy shared Hill’s essay from her time at Deerfield in which she spoke frankly about her depression, and she also hinted about sexual assault, saying she “totally lost it after someone I knew and loved broke serious sexual boundaries with me.”
In her essay, Hill stated that the depression started in her middle school years and “will be with me for the rest of my life.”
At Boston College, Hill was a communication major and vice president of the Young Democrats Club on campus. Marcus Breen, a professor of communication at Boston College had only praise for Hill.
“In classes she was often the first student to offer an opinion on readings that demanded clear critique about the challenges of contemporary society.”
The Kennedy family has gathered at the family’s Hyannis Port compound to remember Saoirse Kennedy Hill.