Published May 19, 2017The rock world was shocked with the news that grunge icon Chris Cornell had died suddenly Wednesday (May 17) night at the age of 52. Adding to that shock, a medical examiner quickly ruled that the Soundgarden vocalist had committed suicide by hanging — a ruling that Cornell's family is now questioning.
The musician's widow, Vicky Cornell, emerged this morning with a statement, writing, "If Chris took his life, he did not know what he was doing, and that drugs or other substances may have affected his actions."
She states his family believes a prescription drug Ativan may have played a role in the singer's death, saying she had noticed a change in Chris Cornell's demeanour when she spoke to him on the phone following Soundgarden's concert Wednesday night in Detroit right before his death.
"When we spoke after the show, I noticed he was slurring his words; he was different. When he told me he may have taken an extra Ativan or two, I contacted security and asked that they check on him," Vicky Cornell said. "What happened is inexplicable and I am hopeful that further medical reports will provide additional details. I know that he loved our children and he would not hurt them by intentionally taking his own life."
This was echoed by a lawyer for the Cornell family, Kirk Pasich, who said the extra dosage of Ativan — an anxiety medication often taken by recovering addicts — could have altered Chris Cornell's mental faculties, saying the Cornell family is "disturbed at inferences that Chris knowingly and intentionally took his life."
Pasich added, "Without the results of toxicology tests, we do not know what was going on with Chris — or if any substances contributed to his demise. Chris, a recovering addict, had a prescription for Ativan and may have taken more Ativan than recommended dosages. The family believes that if Chris took his life, he did not know what he was doing, and that drugs or other substances may have affected his actions."
The lawyer also went on to state that side effects of Ativan include "paranoid or suicidal thoughts, slurred speech and impaired judgment." As Vicky Cornell explained, Chris Cornell indeed had slurred speech when she spoke to him on the night of his death.
In Vicky Cornell's statement, she also praised her late husband as a devoted father and husband.
"Chris's death is a loss that escapes words and has created an emptiness in my heart that will never be filled. As everyone who knew him commented, Chris was a devoted father and husband. He was my best friend," she wrote.
"His world revolved around his family first and, of course, his music second. He flew home for Mother's Day to spend time with our family. He flew out mid-day Wednesday, the day of the show, after spending time with the children. When we spoke before the show, we discussed plans for a vacation over Memorial Day and other things we wanted to do."
Chris Cornell was found dead with a band around his neck on the bathroom floor of his hotel room at the MGM Grand Detroit following a concert Soundgarden performed at the Fox Theater.