Drugs Did Not Kill Chris Cornell: Autopsy Report

Published June 4th, 2017 - 08:08 GMT
Goodbye, Chris Cornell. Gone, but not forgotten.
Goodbye, Chris Cornell. Gone, but not forgotten.

Drugs were found in the biological system of rocker Chris Cornell but they played no active role in his suicide last month, a toxicology report said Friday.

The Wayne County, Mich., medical examiner issued the singer's autopsy and toxicology report, which identified traces of multiple medications in his system at the time of his death—the opioid blocker naloxone, the decongestant pseudoephedrine, the sedative lorazepam and the barbituate butalbital. All of the drugs but pseudoephedrine require a doctor's prescription.

The report, however, notes that none of the drugs contributed to Cornell's death. He was found hanged in a Detroit hotel room following a concert on May 18.

"It is my opinion that death was caused by hanging," Wayne County assistant medical examiner Theodore Brown said in a post mortem report. "Based on the circumstances surrounding this death and the autopsy findings, the manner of death is suicide."

The ME's report also noted that Cornell's injuries "were all consistent with hanging, partially suspended by [a] resistance exercise band."

Following the release of the toxicology report, Cornell's widow told Rolling Stone that the singer had not been an active drug user for more than a decade.

"Many of us who know Chris well, noticed that he wasn't himself during his final hours and that something was very off," Vicky Karayiannis said Friday. "After so many years of sobriety, this moment of terrible judgement seems to have completely impaired and altered his state of mind."

Immediately after her husband's death, Karayiannis pointed out that lorazepam—often sold under the brand name Ativan—can produce suicidal thoughts.

"Something clearly went terribly wrong and my children and I are heartbroken and are devastated that this moment can never be taken back," she added Friday.

Cornell, 52, achieved success with his band Soundgarden from 1984-1997, winning two Grammy awards and receiving 12 nominations. He embarked on a solo career in 1998 and founded Audioslave in 2001 before rejoining Soundgarden in 2010.

Cornell's highest-charting solo single on the Billboard 100, “You Know My Name,” was featured in the opening credits to the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale. His 2015 song “Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart” reached No. 2 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart. Cornell was also a favorite of filmmaker Michael Mann, who featured three Audioslave songs in the acclaimed films Collateral (2004) and Miami Vice (2006).

Cornell also scored two No. 1 albums in the United States—Soundgarden's Superunknown in 1994 and Audioslave's Out of Exile in 2005. His best performing solo effort, 2009's Scream, reached No. 10 on the U.S. album chart.

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