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The wife of Chris Cornell believes the late rock singer never would have “intentionally” taken his own life and that the side effects of medication he was taking may have played a role in his death.
Vicky Cornell issued a statement Friday after the Soundgarden and Audioslave lead singer was found dead early Thursday in his Detroit hotel room following a concert. The 52-year-old was reportedly found with a “band” around his neck, and the medical examiner later concluded his death was a suicide.
But in her statement, Vicky Cornell said Chris may have been adversely affected by the prescription medication he was taking. She added that before the concert, the two had discussed plans for a vacation during the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend, and that she hadn’t noticed anything wrong.
“When we spoke after the show, I noticed he was slurring his words; he was different,” Cornell said, according to Rolling Stone. “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 Cornells’ attorney, Kirk Pasich, said the family was “disturbed” at the suggestion that Chris had knowingly and intentionally committed suicide, and questioned the role the Ativan could have played in his decision. Side effects of the anti-anxiety medication could include paranoia and suicidal thoughts, the attorney said.
“Chris, a recovering addict, had a prescription for Ativan and may have taken more Ativan than recommended dosages,” Pasich said. “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.”
According to numerous reports, the singer appeared to be in good spirits following Soundgarden’s Wednesday night concert at Detroit’s Fox Theater. He had spoken onstage about his excitement for the next concert, a Friday show in Columbus, Ohio, and had reportedly taken time to pose with fans seeking photographs after the show.
“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,” Vicky Cornell said in her statement.
“The outpouring of love and support from his fans, friends and family means so much more to us than anyone can know,” she added. “Thank you for that, and for understanding how difficult this is for us.”
Soundgarden was one of the most successful bands to come out of Seattle’s 1990s grunge scene, and Cornell won two Grammys with the group in 1995, for the songs “Spoonman” and “Black Hole Sun.” He also released four solo albums.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum