Did The Prescription Drug Ativan Cause Chris Cornell To Commit Suicide ?
As I sit here listening to my all time favorite Soundgarden album “Badmotorfinger” all I can do is shake my head. It’s always baffled me how someone who can make music this great, that makes millions of other people happy, can personally be so sad and miserable. I remember asking the same questions a few years ago when Robin Williams did the same thing. Another man who had an immeasurable talent that spent his life making other people happy yet he too was suffering inside. It’s been just a few days since we have heard the tragic news of the suicide of Chris Cornell. Still we have more questions today than answers of what caused him to decide to take his own life.
We’ve heard all the comments before of how selfish it is for someone to think only of themselves when they decide to take their own life. How it’s cruel to leave behind loved ones, children, and family members. Usually though in each case you can see what would lead a person to that point. One example is of legendary drummer Butch Trucks of The Allman Brothers band. He had run into enormous money problems, and just couldn’t handle it anymore. Another example is of a musician named Pete Ham of the 1970s band Badfinger. Like Chris he also decided to take his own life by hanging himself. Just hours before he had learned that his financial adviser had spent and stolen all of his money. But none of that is the case with Chris Cornell.
The year of 2017 should’ve been one of the happiest years of Cornell’s life. He was married to a beautiful woman, had a beautiful family with children that adored him. He had millions of dollars in the bank, was more than financially secure. He was a respected musician among both his fans, musical peers, even his personal heroes like Paul McCartney, Jimmy Page, and Joe Perry. He had already been looking to the future, and all signs pointed to a bright one. More than likely him and his band mates in Soundgarden were gonna be nominated, and most likely inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2018. (With Chris’ death that will pretty much be automatic now.) He had plans to record, and release new music for both his bands Soundgarden, and Audioslave. All signs pointed to a very bright future.
Even on the night of his last show in Detroit there was no signs of what was to come. Chris was in good spirits all through the show, and even stuck around afterwards to sign autographs, and chat with fans. The prior weekend before he had gone home to spend time with his family, and wive for Mother’s Day. According to everyone who spent time with him said he was joyful and normal, nothing to arise any suspicion . There was really only one thing that had been bothering Chris, and that was his anxiety. It had been haunting him ever since he was a teenager, that would eventually lead him to deal with crippling depression. So crippling actually that as a teenager he went though spells where he couldn’t even leave his house. He even dropped out of high school because he had missed so many days because of this illness. Eventually Chris would take steps that helped him deal with his illness, and find solace through his music.
It shouldn’t be surprising that in the last days of his life Chris felt some anxiety. He had been the busiest he had been in many years. Starting with the Temple Of The Dog reunion tour last year to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the album that was a tribute to his former roommate and close friend Andrew Wood. Then getting back together with his Soundgarden band mates for a tour this year. Since his anxiety was higher than usual his doctor prescribed a drug called Ativan to him.
Ativan is a brand of the drug lorazepam, which is used to treat anxiety as well as seizures It works by boosting a natural chemical in the body that produces a calming effect. Some of the side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, loss of coordination, headache, nausea, blurred vision, changes in sexual interest/ability, constipation, heartburn and change in appetite. The drug has also been known to cause serious side effects, but they are rare. Those side effects include hallucinations, depression, thoughts of suicide, slurred speech, vision changes, unusual weakness, trouble walking, memory problems and infection. The risk of serious side effects increases if the user consumes alcohol, pain killers, cough medicine or other various over-the-counter and prescription drugs while on the medication.
When Chris returned to his hotel room after the concert he called his wife Vicky, and his words sounded slured like he was tired or drunk. Knowing something wasn’t right Vicky asked him why he sounded the way he did, and Chris told her he had taken an extra Ativan or two. After not being able to reach him shortly after that phone call Vicky had a friend alert the security at the hotel . A short time later Chris was found fully clothed in the bathroom floor. An autopsy proved that Chris had hung himself. The police investigation will focus on the events that happened in the last hour of his life. It is not known yet that if other drugs such as cocaine or heroin were involved, but that doesn’t seem accurate since Chris had been a reformed drug user for years.
Could the extra Ativan that Chris had taken cause him to commit suicide ? Anything is possible. One thing is for sure, and that is the fact that many of these drugs given to help people with Mental illness, bipolar, anxiety, schizophrenia, depression, etc, are just as dangerous as the illnesses themselves. The only bright side we can take from this tragedy is now maybe it will shine a light on how these medications are prescribed, and more of a focus on the side effects they cause. One thing is for sure, it doesn’t matter if you’re unknown or famous, Rich or poor, your ethnic background, where you came from, or where you grew up. Depression and mental illness have an effect on pretty much everyone. Yes, some people use it as an excuse or a crutch as a reason nothing in their life goes right. More often than not though, most can’t help the fact that it happens to them. It’s no joke at all, and always should be taken seriously no matter who the person is.