Robert F Kennedy’s granddaughter Saoirse Kennedy Hill has died at the age of 22, her family have announced.
The statement followed reports of a death at the Kennedy family compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.
The New York Times reports Kennedy Hill died following an apparent overdose.
Citing family and friends, the Times said the young woman was at the compound, the home of her grandmother Ethel Kennedy, 91, when the emergency services were called on Thursday afternoon.
She was taken to Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, where she was pronounced dead, according to the newspaper.
Her death is the latest in a long series of tragedies to beset one of America’s leading political dynasties.
Kennedy Hill was the daughter of Robert and Ethel Kennedy’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 family said: “She lit up our lives with her love, her peals of laughter and her generous spirit.”
The statement added that Kennedy Hill was passionate about human rights and women’s empowerment and worked with indigenous communities to build schools in Mexico.
She attended Boston College, where she was a member of the class of 2020, the university confirmed to The Boston Globe.
The Times reports Kennedy Hill had written about struggling with mental illness while a student at a preparatory school in Massachusetts, the Deerfield Academy, in 2016.
The family statement did not include a cause of death.
The Cape & Islands district attorney’s office said Barnstable police responded to a home “for a reported unattended death” on Thursday afternoon, according to a statement cited by news outlets.
Ethel Kennedy has endured a series of tragedies that have befallen her extended family, including the assassination of her husband, then a US senator for New York, who was shot and killed in Los Angeles just after winning the California primary race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968.
Two of Robert and Ethel’s sons suffered untimely deaths – David, of a drug overdose in 1984 at age 28, and Michael in 1997 at age 39.
RFK’s older brother, President John F Kennedy, was himself assassinated five years earlier in Dallas, and his son, John Jr, died with his wife Carolyn Bessette and sister-in-law when the plane he was piloting crashed in the Atlantic off Martha’s Vineyard, not far from Hyannis Port.
Kennedy Hill’s death comes weeks after the 50th anniversary of the scandal surrounding a fatal car accident in which RFK’s younger brother, then-Senator Edward Kennedy, drove off a bridge connecting the tiny island of Chappaquiddick to Martha’s Vineyard, killing his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne.
The murky circumstances of that crash effectively dashed Edward Kennedy’s presidential ambitions.