Chris Cornell's Wife Speaks Up: Were Drugs Involved In Soundgarden Frontman's Suicide?

Chris Cornell’s Wife Speaks Up: Were Drugs Involved In Soundgarden Frontman’s Suicide?

In a recent interview, Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell’s wife, Vicky Karayiannis, said that she believes her late husband’s suicide wasn’t intentional but rather driven by an accidental overdose of the anti-anxiety drug, Ativan.

On Thursday morning, it was first reported that Cornell, who was only 52-years-old, had unexpectedly died mere hours after his band, Soundgarden, had played a show at the Fox Theatre in Detroit. But fans were even more shocked to learn later in the day that his death was an apparent suicide, as confirmed by medical examiners investigating the grunge legend’s sudden passing. According to the Associated Press, Cornell was believed to have hung himself in his room at the MGM Grand Detroit Hotel.

As Chris Cornell’s wife expressed that there was no sign that he may have been suicidal, friends and family of the late rocker were left wondering what could have pushed him to take his own life. The Inquisitr reported that Cornell was described as acting strangely at the Fox Theatre show on Wednesday night, forgetting lyrics to his band’s most famous songs and lacking energy for most of Soundgarden’s performance. And on an ominous note, some fans believe he may have left signs that he was planning to commit suicide after the show, making off-the-cuff remarks and segueing into a refrain of Led Zeppelin’s “In My Time of Dying” during the band’s final song, “Slaves and Bulldozers.”

Chris Cornell in 2014, performing at Lollapalooza Brazil. [Image by Buda Mendes/Getty Images]

With one day having passed since news of the tragedy broke out, new comments from Chris Cornell’s wife Vicky suggest that the singer’s unusual behavior and subsequent suicide may have been related to prescription drug use.

Speaking to TMZ, Vicky Karayiannis told the publication that she did indeed talk to her husband hours before he passed away, and he did not, in any way, appear depressed or suicidal. The couple was, in fact, discussing Memorial Day vacation plans over the phone. But Vicky observed that Chris was slurring his words when they spoke prior to Wednesday night’s concert, with Chris admitting he “may have taken an extra Ativan or two.”

According to, Ativan is also known by its generic name lorazepam, and the drug is used to treat people suffering from anxiety disorders. The fact sheet goes on to say that lorazepam can be a “habit-forming” drug, and it should only be used if prescribed by a doctor. Like other addictive drugs, lorazepam/Ativan can potentially result in overdoses or even lead to death, especially if used by “someone who has a history of drug abuse or addiction.”

The Seattle Mariners took the time to pay tribute to hometown hero Chris Cornell before their Thursday game against the Chicago White Sox. [Image by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images]

In a 2006 interview with Spin, which was re-published after his suicide, Cornell openly discussed his previous battles with substance abuse, having taken PCP as a young teenager and started doing drugs again in his late-20s. His main addiction, however, was alcohol, and he would spend some time in rehab to conquer his vices. Back in the early 2000s, Chris Cornell was going through a divorce with his first wife, former Soundgarden manager Susan Silver, and Spin described him at the time as a “full-blown substance abuser; “a contrast to the clean-living, contented musician the publication was speaking to more than a decade ago.

Given the lengths Cornell took to beat his substance abuse problems, his wife and lawyer refuse to believe that Chris may have killed himself intentionally. Cornell family attorney Kirk Pasich issued a statement to E! News on Friday, also stressing the possibility of an accidental prescription drug overdose.

“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, a recovering addict, had a prescription for Ativan and may have taken more Ativan than recommended dosages.”

Chris Cornell and wife Vicky Karayiannis were married for 13 years at the time of his death. He is also survived by their two children, Toni and Christopher, and his daughter with first wife Susan Silver; Lillian Jean.

[Featured Image by Jason Merritt/Getty Images]