Vicky Cornell, the wife of late Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell, and an attorney representing the Cornell family have questioned the results of a medical examiner's report that said the 52-year-old musician committed suicide by hanging himself. The lawyer, Kirk Pasich, released a statement on Friday (May 19th) in which he expressed doubt that Chris intentionally killed himself, saying, "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 noted that some medical literature indicates that Ativan can cause paranoid or suicidal thoughts, slurred speech and impaired judgment.
- The drug is taken mainly for anxiety, but can also be used to treat insomnia, panic attacks, and alcohol withdrawal. Common side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, tiredness, amnesia, difficulty concentrating and more.
In a separate statement, Vicky Cornell said the medication may have played a role in her husband's death. She said:
"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."
- Cornell was found dead in his hotel room after performing a show in Detroit with Soundgarden last Wednesday evening (May 17th). Police and the medical examiner later concluded that he had hanged himself, although toxicology results are pending.
- According to a report by the Detroit News, Chris kept repeating to his wife, "I am just tired," before hanging up the phone during their second conversation, after the show.
- Vicky contacted Chris' security guard, Martin Kirsten, just after midnight and asked him to check on her husband.
- Kirsten had been in Cornell's room an hour earlier to help him fix his computer. At that time he gave the singer two Ativan pills.
- When the bodyguard returned after getting the call from Vicky, he had to kick in two locked doors before he found Chris slumped on the bathroom floor, "with blood running from his mouth and a red exercise band around (his) neck," according to an official police report.
- Medics arrived on the scene and performed emergency procedures on the singer, but he was pronounced dead at 1:30 a.m.