My childhood died yesterday when it was reported that Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell had passed away in Detroit at the age of 52. Bad news turned worse when we learned that his death is being investigated by Detroit Police as a “possible suicide”, with a further report adding that his death was ruled a suicide by hanging. The developing story became personal when stories surfaced this morning that his suicide may have been related to medication he was taking, which happened to one of my friends many years ago.
In a statement through their attorney, Chris Cornell’s family does not believe the Soundgarden and Audioslave singer knew “what he was doing” when he took his own life earlier this week in Detroit.
Via ABC News, Chris’s wife, Vicky, blames an accidental overdose on anxiety medication for pushing him to suicide:
“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,” family attorney Kirk Pasich stated early Friday morning in a press release.
Cornell’s wife Vicky added in the new statement that Chris spoke with her before his Detroit show on Wednesday night and “discussed plans for a vacation over Memorial Day and other things we wanted to do.”
She said that later, after the show, he was “slurring his words; he was different,” when she spoke to him. She said she wants to wait on the results of toxicology tests before drawing any conclusions.
“When he told me he may have taken an extra Ativan or two, I contacted security and asked that they check on him,” she said. “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.”
This is a really, really big deal and there’s a huge difference between a premeditated suicide and one caused by medication. With the latter, the victim may not have been in their right mind and acting on impulse. Wrongly prescribed or over prescribed drugs could cause someone to do this, or not explaining the side effects of one could have the same end result. With Cornell being a high profile celebrity, and as someone who lost a loved one to the side effects of a medication, I can only hope this raises awareness of the overmedication problem we have in this country and seek to find people the help they need in a more controlled and safe way. But this is a conversation for another day. Today we mourn.