Chris Cornell Is Not Alone: Cornell’s Tragic Death Shines A Spotlight On A Skyrocketing Suicide Rate [Opinion]

Chris Cornell has been greatly mourned throughout the world in recent days. Cornell’s tragic suicide came as a shock to millions, if not billions of music lovers throughout the world.

Chris Cornell, the lead singer of Soundgarden was beloved for his kindness, as well as his incredible singing voice. Chris was the kind of person who cared deeply about others. Chris was close to his wife, Vicky Cornell and their children.

Chris Cornell was “a devoted husband and father” as his wife Vicky Cornell stated and is quoted in The Rolling Stone.

“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.”

No one who knew Chris Cornell has any idea why he would commit suicide. Chris had a bright future and had made plans with his wife and children for Memorial Day weekend. Was Chris concealing depression or was there some other factor? Vicky Cornell is blaming his medication. More on that below.

Chris Cornell is not alone in his death by suicide, if indeed that is what happened to Chris. NBC News was the first to consider Chris Cornell in connection with the rising suicide rate, especially among middle-aged white men.

According to the report by NBC News, 121 Americans take their own lives each day. Of those 121, about 93 of them are men, and seven out of ten suicide victims are white. AOL noted that between 1999 and 2015 600,000 people committed suicide in the United States. It is noted that while Women attempt suicide more often than men, statistically, they fail more often in their attempts than men.

Chris Cornell matches the overall demographic for suicide victims simply because he was white, male and between 46 and 65 according to NBC News. There are other factors that don’t fit the most typical profile though. Did Chris Cornell really intend to commit suicide? His wife Vicky Cornell doesn’t think so, or at least Mrs. Cornell feels that Chris was not in full control of his faculties at the time of his death.

Chris Cornell was not a rural resident, and strangely, in this century, that is a significant factor in the suicide rate demographics. The American Council on Science and Health reported that Suicide rates in Rural America have increased more than 40 percent in 16 years. The overall U.S. suicide rate has increased by just under 30 percent overall.

The suicide rate in rural areas is 22 per 100,000, while in cities it is 12 per 100,000. While the suicide rates are rising everywhere, they are rising much faster in rural and small town areas than in cities.

Chris Cornell was not poor. NPR shared a report from a husband and wife team of economists who believe they understand the cause of the rising rate of suicide among middle-aged Americans.

The suicide rate is rooted in poverty and a disintegrating job market, that is far worse in rural areas than in cities, according to Anne Case and Angus Dalton. The husband and wife point to an expanded statistic they call “deaths of despair.” “Death by despair” includes death by suicide, drugs, and alcohol abuse. Angus Dalton explained their reasoning.

“We knew the proximate causes — we know what they were dying from. We knew suicides were going up rapidly, and that overdoses mostly from prescription drugs were going up, and that alcoholic liver disease was going up. The deeper questions were why those were happening.”

The Suicide rate in the United States seems isolated from what is being noted worldwide. This seems to be largely an American problem at least in terms of such a drastic increase Anne Case explained further.

“These deaths of despair have been accompanied by reduced labor force participation, reduced marriage rates, increases in reports of poor health and poor mental health. So we are beginning to thread a story in that it’s possible that [the trend is] consistent with the labor market collapsing.”

While this suicide statistic obviously does not apply to Chris Cornell perhaps other elements came into play in that specific situation that reportedly appears to be suicide.

Chris Cornell of Soundgarden
Chris Cornell of Soundgarden [Image by Buda Mendes/Getty Images]

Chris Cornell’s Wife Vicky Cornell says she blames the anti-anxiety drug Ativan for Chris’ death but was waiting for the medical examiner’s report.

“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. What happened is inexplicable and I am hopeful that further medical reports will provide additional details.”

The Chris Cornell Family’s attorney Kirk Pasich explained Vicky Cornell’s belief that Ativan may have indirectly caused Chris’ death.

“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.”

The Cornell’s attorney continued explaining that Ativan could cause someone to do something they would not normally do.

“[Ativan side effects include] paranoid or suicidal thoughts, slurred speech, and impaired judgment.”

Vicky Cornell explained that her husband’s speech was slurred, so is it possible he was experiencing other symptoms as well?

Soundgardent's Chris Cornell
Soundgardent's Chris Cornell [Image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]


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Chris Cornell’s real underlying cause of death might not ever be fully understood, but it is hoped that increased awareness may stem the rising tide of suicide in America.

[Featured Image by Roger Kisby/Getty Images]