A completed toxicology report has confirmed that Chris Cornell was using prescription drugs at the time of his death.
The report reveals that the SOUNDGARDEN frontman had Naloxone (Narcan), Butalbital (a sedative), Lorazepam (Ativan), Pseudoephedrine (a decongestant) and barbiturates in his system when he was found dead after the band’s performance in Detroit. He was 52.
Michigan’s Wayne County Medical Examiner has confirmed that the manner of death was suicide and that “drugs did not contribute to the cause of death.”
“It is my opinion that death was caused by hanging,” Wayne County assistant medical examiner Theodore Brown wrote in his post mortem report in documents obtained by Rolling Stone. “Based on the circumstances surrounding this death and the autopsy findings, the manner of death is suicide.”
In a statement issued following the release of her late husband’s toxicology report, Vicky Cornell said: “Many of us who know Chris well, noticed that he wasn’t himself during his final hours and that something was very off. We have learned from this report that several substances were found in his system. After so many years of sobriety, this moment of terrible judgement seems to have completely impaired and altered his state of mind. Something clearly went terribly wrong and my children and I are heartbroken and are devastated that this moment can never be taken back.
“We very much appreciate all of the love we have received during this extremely difficult time and are dedicated to helping others in preventing this type of tragedy.”
Cornell‘s widow issued a statement earlier in the week through the family’s attorney in which she questioned the medical examiner’s conclusion that her husband committed suicide by hanging himself in a hotel room on May 18. In the statement, released on Thursday (June 1), lawyer Kirk Pasich claimed that Vicky Cornell was “mystified that the medical examiner announced a cause of death when the full autopsy report has not been completed.”
The family claimed that it was still not clear on what may have caused Chris to hang himself, a determination the city’s coroner made less than 24 hours after the singer’s body was found by his bodyguard in the early hours of May 18.
Pasich added that the family hoped there would be an end to speculation about the cause of Cornell‘s death.
Vicky Cornell stated: “We are grateful for the outpouring of support as we mourn Chris‘s passing, but we still have several unanswered questions about what led to his death. We believe the toxicology report will answer these questions.”
The family has suggested that the anti-anxiety prescription medication Ativan, which Chris was taking, may have played a role in his demise. He may have taken a higher dosage than usual on the night of his death, with Vicky saying his speech sounded “slurred” during their final phone conversation. The toxicology report appears to show Cornell had ingested four tablets.
“Chris, a recovering addict, had a prescription for Ativan and may have taken more Ativan than recommended dosages,” Pasich said in a statement. “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.”
Chris was laid to rest last Friday (May 26) at the Forever Hollywood cemetery in Los Angeles, attended by bandmates, fellow musicians and actors such as Brad Pitt and Josh Brolin that he had befriended.