Chris Cornell's wife questions official cause of death

Chris Cornell's wife questions official cause of death
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

After playing an epic show at Detroit's Fox Theatre Wednesday night, Soundgarden's lead singer Chris Cornell reportedly left the venue in good spirits, eventually returned to his hotel room at the MGM Grand Detroit and died by suicide. His body was found Thursday morning.

This at least is the official version of events, confirmed by the Wayne County Medical Examiner's office, which shared Cornell's autopsy results Thursday, listing his cause of death as "hanging by suicide." Cornell's family and wife, Vicky Cornell, are now questioning that account. 

Friday morning, the Cornell family released a statement through their lawyer questioning the ruling.

"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," the statement reads, according to Pitchfork. "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 Cornell and his wife, Vicky Cornell
Source: 
Katy Winn/AP

Cornell had reportedly been taking the prescription drug Ativan. If taken above the recommended dosage, the statement reads, "Ativan can cause paranoid or suicidal thoughts, slurred speech and impaired judgment." 

In her own statement, Vicky confirmed that in their conversation that night, Cornell had been slurring his words. "He was different," she wrote. "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."

One of Cornell's final tweets, sent on Mother's Day, was dedicated to Vicky, calling her "an angel and a lioness. The perfect mother and the perfect wife."

"I know that he loved our children and he would not hurt them by intentionally taking his own life," Vicky wrote in her statement.

Read Vicky Cornell's full statement on the death of her husband below:

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. 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.

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Tom Barnes

Tom Barnes is a senior staff writer at Mic focused on music, activism and the intersection between the two. He's based in New York and can be reached at tom@mic.com.

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