Chris Cornell Cause Of Death Questioned: Singer’s Family Still Skeptical About The Suicide

Chris Cornell, lead vocalist of Soundgarden and Audioslave, died on May 18, and his death was ruled a “suicide by hanging” by the Wayne County Medical Examiner. Chris’ family, however, and particularly his wife Vicky Karayiannis, remain skeptical regarding the cause of death, telling TMZ that they still have unanswered questions. The City of Detroit, meanwhile, is still treating the singer’s death as “an open investigation.”

Chris’ family and their lawyer, Kirk Pasich, had asked to see the police’s toxicology report, performed during the autopsy. The request was made under the Freedom of Information act, which allows the public to request information held by public authorities. However, The City of Detroit refused to honor the request at this time, stating that releasing the toxicology report would “compromise and/or interfere with the investigation.”

Chris Cornell was 52-years-old when he died. On the night of his death, Chris returned to his room at the “MGM Grand Hotel” in Detroit, following a sold out show at the Fox Theater. According to the police report cited by The Daily Mail, shortly before his death Chris’ bodyguard, Martin Kirsten, gave him two Ativan anti-anxiety pills, which the singer had a prescription for. A short while later, Chris’ wife asked the bodyguard to check on her husband’s well being, as he “didn’t sound right” when they spoke.

“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.”

Chris’ bodyguard broke into the singer’s hotel suite following the wife’s request, and found Chris dead on the bathroom floor with a rubber exercise band around his neck. Police officers were then called to the hotel, and Chris’ death was ruled as a suicide on the very next day by the medical examiner. But many of Chris’ friends and family members refused to believe he would kill himself, claiming there were no warning signs for such an act – therefore, the toxicology report became essential in their eyes, speculating that an accidental overdose of pills may have driven Chris to his untimely death.

Musician Chris Cornell (L) and his wife Vicky Karayiannis pose at a private reception
Chris Cornell and his wife Vicky Karayiannis [Image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]

Filmmaker Cameron Crowe, who knew Chris Cornell, spoke to Rolling Stone about his disbelief regarding the singer’s death.

“I always felt like Chris had a lonely place inside of him that he went to creatively. Sometimes he laughed at the whole rock-god thing. I never thought Chris – given family and a certain sunniness, the humor and soulfulness in the way he talked about his life privately – would go all the way into the dark place. I thought he would access it, write about it and mock it too well.”

Chris Cornell’s wife still refuses to believe his suicide as well.

“What happened is inexplicable,” she said, “And I am hopeful that further medical reports will provide additional details”.

The family’s lawyer further explained why the toxicology reports are so important in understand the exact cause – or perhaps reason – of death.

“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. 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.”

Backstage at Pinkpop, Netherlands, 2009 #tbt

A post shared by Chris Cornell (@chriscornellofficial) on

At this point, weeks after Chris Cornell’s death, his family is reportedly still not satisfied with the answers they’re getting – and particularly the ones they’re not getting. According to TMZ, the family is “mystified” that Chris’ death was ruled a suicide by the Medical Examiner, while at the same time the city is still treating this as an open investigation, and are therefore refusing to release the toxicology reports.

It seems we will have to wait longer for the City of Detroit to finish its investigation, before we have a definite cause of death for Chris Cornell – or at least an explanation as to the reasons that drove him to kill himself. Then again, we may never get the full answer.

[Featured Image by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images]