Chris Cornell's Wife Questions Cause of Death

"Without the results of toxicology tests, we do not know what was going on with Chris — or if any substances contributed to his demise."

The family of Chris Cornell questions the Detroit coroner's conclusion that the late Soundgarden singer committed suicide in a hotel room on Thursday following a concert by his group.

In a letter from Cornell family attorney Kirk Pasich and Cornell's grieving wife, Vicky Cornell, they say that they are "disturbed at inferences that Chris knowingly and intentionally took his life," suggesting that the 52-year-old grunge icon may have taken an accidental overdose of anxiety medications, which in high doses can be lethal.

The statement from Pasich and Vicky Cornell explains that, "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. Pasich adds that some medical literature indicates that "Ativan can cause paranoid or suicidal thoughts, slurred speech and impaired judgment."

Cornell was found dead on the floor of his Detroit hotel room shortly after Soundgarden completed a show at the city's Fox Theatre with what police have described as a "cord" around his neck. The city's coroner ruled the 52-year-old singer's death a suicide.

Wife Vicky Cornell shared her grief over the loss of her husband of 13 years and father of their two pre-teen children. "Chris’s death is a loss that escapes words and has created an emptiness in my heart that will never be filled," she said. "As everyone who knew him commented, Chris was a devoted father and husband. He was my best friend. His world revolved around his family first and of course, his music, second."

She said Cornell flew home to spend Mother's Day with the family over the weekend between gigs and then flew back out midday Wednesday, the afternoon of the Detroit show, after spending time with his children. "When we spoke before the show, we discussed plans for a vacation over Memorial Day and other things we wanted to do," she said. "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."

She added, "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. The outpouring of love and support from his fans, friends and family means so much more to us than anyone can know.  Thank you for that, and for understanding how difficult this is for us.” 

Read the full statement from Pasich and Vicky Cornell below.

Attorney for Chris Cornell family and Vicky Cornell issue statement on Chris Cornell’s death  

Kirk Pasich, an attorney for the Chris Cornell family, said that the family is disturbed at inferences that Chris knowingly and intentionally took his life. 

“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,” he stated.

Mr. Pasich noted that some medical literature indicates that Ativan can cause paranoid or suicidal thoughts, slurred speech and impaired judgment.  

Vicky Cornell added, “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. 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. 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. 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. The outpouring of love and support from his fans, friends and family means so much more to us than anyone can know.  Thank you for that, and for understanding how difficult this is for us.”

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