Yesterday, the world awoke to the sad news that Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell had been found dead in a Detroit hotel room just hours after performing for a sell-out crowd.
It was later revealed that Cornell’s cause of death was suicide by hanging, and the initial police report was confirmed by Wayne County medical examiners on Thursday evening.
While suicide often comes as an utter shock to the victim’s loved ones, Cornell’s wife Vicky says that she’s stunned to the point that she doesn’t fully accept the medical examiner’s ruling.
Vicky has reportedly told friends that in all their time together, Chris never gave any indication that he was depressed or inclined toward self-harm.
In a statement issued today, Vicky revealed that she became concerned after speaking with him on the night of his death, but not because he sounded suicidal.
Vicky says that “Chris was slurring his words” in their second phone conversation of the night, and she became concerned when he revealed that he “may have taken an extra Ativan or two.”
Ativan is a brand name for lorazepam, an anti-anxiety medication that’s often used to treat symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol and other drugs.
Chris struggled with addiction throughout much of his adult life, but sources say he hasn’t had a drink or consumed in illicit substance since he checked into rehab back in 2003.
Now, lawyers for the family are taking action to ensure that the investigation continues in order to determine if drugs played a role in Chris’ decision to commit suicide.
“The family believes if Chris took his life, he did not know what he was doing, and that drugs or other substances may have affected his actions,” reads a statement issued by Cornell family attorneys just moments ago.
Those who encountered Cornell in his final hours say the singer seemed upbeat and excited for the future.
But fans at his final concert noted that there was an elegiac tone to the night’s performance:
“My first impression was that Chris was more joyous than I’d ever seen him before,” attendee Ken Settle tells People magazine.
“He’d always been, back in the early days especially, kind of a brooding performer, more introspective, sometimes looking down at his guitar most of the time with his hair in his face. At this show, it was the opposite of that.”
Settle notes that there were two details that he finds morbid in retrospect:
Settle says that while bantering with the crowd, Cornell commented, “I feel really sorry for the next city,” a remark that may have had an ominous tone.
He also points out that Cornell concluded the show with a rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “In My Time of Dying”, a choice that was likely just a macabre coincidence.
In a statement issued today, Vicky Cornell thanked fans for their support and paid tribute to Chris as a devoted husband and father:
“Chris’s death is a loss that escapes words and has created an emptiness in my heart that will never be filled,” Vicky said.
“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.”
“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.”