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Chris Cornell's Wife Says Prescription Drug May Have Led to His Suicide

Singer's wife says he was "slurring his words" and "was different" in the hours after his final performance.

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A day after Detroit police ruled singer Chris Cornell’s death a suicide, the late singer’s wife has added context to that conclusion, saying in a statement that Cornell was “slurring his words” and “was different” in the hours after his final performance Wednesday night, possibly as the result of prescription medication.

Vicky Cornell’s attorney, Kirk Pasich, said that Cornell may have ingested more than the recommended dosage of the sedative Ativan shortly before his death in a Detroit hotel room, possibly distorting his perception and behavior. “Without the results of toxicology tests, we do not know what was going on with Chris—or if any substances contributed to his demise,” Papich said. “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.”

Cornell, a recovering addict, had struggled with depression in the past. But his wife, Vicky Cornell, said Friday morning that the Soundgarden frontman had talked about planning a vacation in recent days. “What happened is inexplicable and I am hopeful that further medical reports will provide additional details,” she wrote. “I know that he loved our children and he would not hurt them by intentionally taking his own life.”

“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.”

Ativan is an anti-anxiety medication that can have dangerous side effects when over-ingested or mixed with drugs or alcohol.

Cornell had just finished a rousing show with a reunited Soundgarden at Detroit’s Fox Theatre when he returned to his hotel room and hanged himself, according to police. As day broke and news of his death spread, tributes from artists and musicians started pouring in.

On Friday morning, Vicky Cornell said that “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.”

Ms. Cornell concluded, “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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