The medical examiner ruled Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell died of suicide by hanging, but offered few other details.
DETROIT, MI — The medical examiner ruled Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell died of suicide by hanging, but offered few other details.
Kirk Pasich, an attorney representing Cornell’s family, in a statement indicated the 52-year-old singer took Ativan, a benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety and as a sleep aid, and may have been on a higher that usual dose Wednesday.
The statement said:
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.
Ativan side effects listed on include: hallucinations, confusion, depressed mood, and thoughts of suicide.
Security was asked to check on Cornell in his MGM Grand hotel near downtown Detroit shortly after the Soundgarden concert at the Detroit Fox Theatre. The singer, who rose to prominence in the 1990s Seattle music scene, was found dead in the bathroom, Detroit police said.
At one point, a spokesman for the police department told the Detroit Free Press Cornell had “a band around his neck, ” but Officer Jennifer Moreno on Friday declined to verify or deny that detail.
Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office spokeswoman Lisa Croff didn’t respond to questions from MLive about whether there was a suicide note or any drugs present.
“As of right now, we haven’t received any more info on Chris Cornell, ” Croff said in an email.” We are still awaiting the final autopsy report.”
The results from toxicology tests can take several weeks.
Cornell, who in the past was open about battles with drugs and alcohol abuse, leaves behind his wife Vicky, and their two children, Christopher, 11, and Toni, 12, according to People. Cornell also had a 16-year-old daughter, Lillian, with his first wife, Susan Silver.
A statement from Cornell’s wife 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
Vicky Cornell also said the outpouring of love and concern from fans, family and friends “means so much more to us than anyone can know.”
Several fans who attended Wednesday’s concert told MLive they didn’t notice Cornell acting unusual.
“He was just really into it and to find out he was dead, not even three or four hours afterward … I couldn’t see it coming, ” Peter Mays, 49, of Detroit said. “There was no indication … this was going to happen … physically, he looked really good, he’d grown his hair back out, he was dancing around to the songs.
“You just never would have imagined that from him.”

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