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Chris Cornell's wife says suicide 'inexplicable' and suspects medication might have contributed

Chris Cornell's wife and family lawyer say a prescription medication the singer was taking may have contributed to his death earlier this week. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
Chris Cornell's wife and family lawyer say a prescription medication the singer was taking may have contributed to his death earlier this week. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Chris Cornell’s wife and the family’s lawyer responded Friday to the Soundgarden singer’s death following a concert Wednesday in Detroit, saying they suspect that an anti-anxiety medication he was taking may have contributed to what has been ruled by the Wayne County medical examiner as suicide by hanging.

“Without the results of toxicology tests, we do not know what was going on with Chris — or if any substances contributed to his demise,” attorney Kirk Pasich said in the statement. “Chris, a recovering addict, had a prescription for Ativan and may have taken more Ativan than recommended dosages.”

In the same statement, Vicky Cornell 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 ....

“What happened is inexplicable and I am hopeful that further medical reports will provide additional details,” her statement continued. “I know that he loved our children and he would not hurt them by intentionally taking his own life.”

Pasich added: “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.”

Cornell had struggled with drug and alcohol abuse during the rise of Soundgarden from the Seattle grunge rock scene of the early 1990s, and it contributed to the band’s demise in 1997. But after completing a rehab program, he was in recovery when he and members of Rage Against the Machine formed the band Audioslave in 2001.

“Chris’ death is a loss that escapes words and has created an emptiness in my heart that will never be filled,” Vicky Cornell 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.

“He flew home for Mother’s Day to spend time with our family,” she said. “He flew out midday 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 .... 

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

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