PATRICK KENNEDY has hit back at those who were quick to label the tragic death of his cousin Saoirse Kennedy Hill as another example of the “Kennedy family curse”.
Talk of the ‘Kennedy family curse’ stems from the fact no fewer than 10 members of the extended Kennedy family have died in tragic circumstances.
Joseph P. Kennedy died when his plane exploded over East Suffolk during the Second World War while his younger brothers John and Robert F. Kennedy were both assassinated.
Robert’s son David A. Kennedy also died from a cocaine overdose while John’s son John F Kennedy Jr’s son died in a plane crash.
Writing in USA Today, Kennedy condemned those who broke the news of the 22-year-old Kennedy Hill’s death on August 1st with mention to the “Kennedy curse”
“It was only an hour or two after her death was announced that I started seeing stories about how this is the 'Kennedy curse,’” Kennedy wrote.
“That offends me, and it would have offended Saoirse.”
The former Rhode Island congressman went on to call for greater support for those living with mental illness and addiction issues.
“What she knew, and what she wanted everyone else to know, is that the Kennedy family is, in many ways, painfully typical,” he said.
“We have an unsurprising incidence of mental illness and addiction — our illnesses are no different than anyone else’s and our tragic losses to them have not been so out of the ordinary.”
"We have a big family. A lot of kids had a lot more kids. But mostly we are a more public family than most, under the eye of the media. Consequently, we are less able to hide these struggles than others."
"Honestly, that’s a good thing," Kennedy added.
"Hiding these struggles does not work; too many people live in isolated shame and even die, untreated or unsupported in treatment, because of it. Saoirse came to understand that much earlier in life than I did.
“And since it is her generation that is at the highest risk for these illnesses, and the premature death they can cause, Saoirse was my hero for putting herself and her story out there. And she did it her own way — she called people out."
"We can all take a lesson from Saoirse. Feel what she felt. Do whatever you can from your position in life to stop the isolation, the discrimination and the devastating lack of acknowledgment that too often lead to tragedy.
“Families across the nation are suffering and losing loved ones every day — not just the Kennedys."
Patrick’s op-ed piece for USA Today can be read, in full, here.