Wednesday, the Grammy-wining artist, Chris Cornell was found, hanged by the neck, just hours after a Detroit show with Soundgarden in his hotel room.


With an incredible vocal range and a style unique to 1984, Chris Cornell rose to the status of an icon by playing an integral part in the rise of Seattle grunge music while carving a path for household names such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam. The singer fronted three groups, Soundgarden, Audioslave and Temple of the Dog on top of his solo work, Chris was seemingly never without a project.

A passionate writer whose lyrics were a medley of heavy, often dark statements and emotional, revealing words.

Through his music one could feel his pain, and it made for good songs. He certainly didn't show any signs of slowing down. Fresh off a solo tour, Cornell found himself reunited with Soundgarden for a sold out tour which was sadly cut short at its stop in Detroit.

Vicky Cornell, now a widow, had initially expressed a general sense of shock but the need for privacy. As news first broke, fans found themselves lost with the notion that, as so often with cases of mental illness, Cornell had internalized his issues and sadly, not reached out for help before making the choice to take his life. Chris had been very open about his history with crippling depression which started at a young age. His struggles with drug addiction are likewise well documented.

But the singer had recovered just over five years ago through an impressive and inspiring battle. He appeared happily married (his widow now confirms) with two daughters and a son. His career had been going strong with Chris genuinely satisfied by the work. So could it really be possible for the man to have had such an internal despair culminating in a suicide?

Vicky thinks not.

The last tweet posted to Chris Cornell's twitter page.

A suspicious widow

Early Friday morning Vicky Cornell issued statements regarding the death of her husband wherein she expressed her truest belief that the devoted father would never do his children such a disservice.

"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."

She goes on to note a change in her husband's demeanor hours before his death which prompted her to have hotel security check on him. During their phone conversation, Cornell said he may have "taken an extra Ativan or two."

Fans too spotted oddities, which seemed innocuous before hand, but poignant signs within the context of suicide. Footage of the performance captures a general lack of enthusiasm and sometimes frustration which seems out of character.

At times Cornell even seems to slur and stagger about the stage. In light of his wife's statements we now understand that to be the result of an altered state of mind. As a matter of fact, Chris's lawyer listed the side effects of Ativan in his own statement: "paranoid or suicidal thoughts, slurred speech, and impaired judgment."


Whatever the case, we can give significance to small statements made between songs and of course wipe our eyes at the new meaning given to a verse from "In My Time Of Dying" by Led Zeppelin which Cornell used to close out the show.

But, such is the nature of mental illness that we can point to these things and shake our heads solemnly only after the fact. The reality is that it is a near impossibility to asses disjointed occurrences as warning signs before the unfortunate event of a suicide.

We can hope and encourage people grappling with depression to reach out because they are not experiencing something unique and death is not their only way out. We can monitor the use of mind altering drugs with our loved ones and be weary lest they fall into dependence or (as quite possibly in this case) a skewed mental process.

Music lost an icon Wednesday night. Somebody lost a father, someone else a husband and even more a friend. It is a tragedy to consider his suicide but even more a tragedy to consider that it wasn't legitimately what he wanted. Incredibly saddening to think a barrage of stimuli could lead a man who wouldn't want to leave his wife and children for anything in the world to do just that.

In life, he was an inspiration and will not be forgotten.

Even now as musicians are mourning his passing with tributes from across the country, it is a certainty in the universe that no one will come close to replacing Chris Cornell.