Chris Cornell, Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman, died May 17, 2017 at age 52. His death was later confirmed as a suicide by hanging.
However, two days later, Cornell’s wife, Vicky Cornell, began disputing the idea that Cornell took his own life. A full statement was released at the time, and now, Cornell’s family is filing a lawsuit against the doctor who they claim was over-prescribing medication to the singer, which eventually caused his death, according to Billboard.
Vicky’s full statement at the time of her husband’s death was as follows:
“Chris’s death is a loss that escapes words and has created an emptiness in my heart that will never be filled. 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. 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. When we spoke before the show, we discussed plans for a vacation over Memorial Day and other things we wanted to do. 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. I know that he loved our children and he would not hurt them by intentionally taking his own life.
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.”
Vicky’s attorney, Kirk Pasich, also referenced the anti-anxiety drug Ativan in his statement at the time of his death. “Some medical literature indicates that Ativan can cause paranoid or suicidal thoughts, slurred speech and impaired judgment,” he writes.
Now, Billboard is reporting Vicky and their children, Toni and Christopher, filed a lawsuit against Dr. Robert Koblin and his Beverly Hills office. Cornell’s family claim prescription drugs, especially anti-anxiety medication Lorazepam, led to his erratic behavior prior to his death.
Lorazepam is sold under the brand name Ativan, which the lawsuit states Koblin was prescribing to Cornell in the 20 months leading up to his death. While his death was ruled suicide by hanging, toxicology results did show the presence of Ativan in his system. However, the autopsy report stated the drugs weren’t the cause of death.
The lawsuit states Koblin and anonymous members of his office staff “negligently and repeatedly” prescribed “dangerous mind-altering controlled substances to Chris Cornell which impaired Mr. Cornell’s cognition, clouded his judgment, and caused him to engage in dangerous impulsive behaviors that he was unable to control, costing him his life.”
The lawsuit alleges the doctor knew Cornell had a history of substance abuse and failed to examine or consult with him. The “unmonitored use of such excessive amounts of Lorazepam … was known to increase the risk of suicide because it can severely impair judgment, thinking and impulse control and diminish the ability of a patient to think and act rationally,” the lawsuit states.
Vicky echoed her initial statement following his death in the lawsuit, which states “At the time of his death, Mr. Cornell had everything to live for and was planning a future of recordings, performances and continued work as a charitable activist.”
Chris Cornell statue
A statue honoring Cornell was unveiled in Seattle at the Museum of Pop Culture. The ceremony was initially planned for September but moved to Oct. 7 following “overwhelming response from the Seattle community and fans,” according to Vicky.
The statue was commissioned and donated to MoPOP by Vicky and created by artist Nick Marras. It shows Cornell in a signature pose with his boots, dog tag and long hair.
“As an artist, my husband was not only one of the greatest voices in rock history but also one of the greatest and most prolific poets of his time—his contribution to music birthed a movement that would leave an indelible mark on popular music forever,” Vicky says. “It only makes sense that I donate this statue to MoPop with their dedication to the ideas and risk-taking that fuel contemporary popular culture.”
The widow added MoPOP was the “perfect place” for people to check out the museum and pay homage.
“MoPOP serves to celebrate the Seattle music scene and the luminaries who have emerged from the Northwest. Chris was a key figure who has made a lasting impact on generations worldwide,” Jasen Emmons, the artistic director of MoPOP, says.
Thank you to all the fans who joined us last night in Seattle for the unveiling of the new Chris Cornell statue. pic.twitter.com/uvNhX3W5uW
— Chris Cornell (@chriscornell) October 9, 2018