Skip to main content

Chris Cornell’s Family: Prescription Drugs Might Have Influenced His Suicide

(Image credit: Jim Dyson/Getty Images)

The family of Chris Cornell has issued a statement that questions a coroner’s report that he took his own life early Thursday, May 18. According to the report, Cornell's death was a 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,” read the family's statement.

The family also said Cornell, who was 52, had a prescription for Ativan and might've taken a higher dosage. Ativan is a tranquilizer and anti-anxiety medication that often is used as a sleeping aid. According to the statement, Kirk Pasich, an attorney, said Ativan can cause paranoid or suicidal thoughts, not to mention impaired judgment.

Vicky Cornell, Chris' wife, said, “Chris’ 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.” There are three Cornell children in the picture—Christopher, 11, and Toni, 12, plus Lillian, a 16-year-old daughter from Chris' previous marriage to Susan Silver.

Vicky said Chris flew home from Soundgarden’s tour the weekend before his death to spend time with his family before heading back to the Midwest for more shows.

“When we spoke after the [Detroit] show, I noticed he was slurring his words; he was different,” Vicky said. “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 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.”

For the complete statement, head here. While we're at it, here's another clip from Wednesday night's Soundgarden show:

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month*

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Damian Fanelli
Editor-in-Chief, Guitar World

Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas (opens in new tab), was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron (opens in new tab), a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums (opens in new tab). He now plays in two NYC-area bands.