The family of Chris Cornell are speaking out about the shocking death of the Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman, who was found dead at MGM Grand Detroit on Wednesday night. The medical examiner ruled that Cornell died of suicide by hanging, but the family believes he was not suicidal and instead hint that the side effects of his prescription drugs may have led to his death.
The Cornell family's attorney Kirk Pasich said in a statement that the family is "disturbed" at inferences that Cornell knowingly and intentionally took his life and that Cornell told his wife that he had taken "an extra Ativan or two" before his 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," Pasich said. "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."
Ativan (lorazepam) is a benzodiazepine that is used to treat anxiety, drug withdrawal, agoraphobia and seizure disorders, among other things. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, rare but serious side effects include worsening depression, unusual mood or behavior and thoughts of hurting yourself.
Cornell's wife described the rocker as a loving family man in Friday's statement.
"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."
The rocker was found in his hotel room at the MGM Grand Detroit following Soundgarden's performance at the Fox Theatre. According to Vicky, when she spoke to her husband on the phone after the show she noticed that he was slurring his words and admitted he had taken more than his prescribed dose of Ativan.
"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," she said. "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," Vicky continued. "I know that he loved our children and he would not hurt them by intentionally taking his own life."
She ended her statement by thanking Cornell's fans for the messages they've sent. "The outpouring of love and support from his fans, friends and family means so much more to us than anyone can know," she said. "Thank you for that, and for understanding how difficult this is for us."
Just one month before Cornell's shocking death, the legendary rocker walked the red carpet with his wife and family for the final time to promote a passion project with family ties.
Cornell wrote and performed the end-title song for The Promise, a film that addressed the Armenian genocide. On April 18 he attended a screening of the film at New York's Paris Theater with Vicky and their two children: daughter Toni, 12, and son Christopher, 11.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).