On Thursday, rock fans worldwide were shocked and saddened to hear that the legendary Soundgarden singer, Chris Cornell, had killed himself.

“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,” Cornell’s wife, Vicky Cornell, wrote following the death of her husband.

According to authorities, Chris Cornell died by hanging himself in his MGM Grand Detroit hotel room after a concert at the Fox Theatre.

But, why, many are asking, would a man who was worshiped by his fans, had a beautiful family and successful career, take his own life. Well, his wife and family attorney have come forward with a potential reason.

Chris Cornell was taking Ativan, a psychoactive drug in the Benzodiazepines class.

Benzodiazepines, sometimes called “benzos,” are a class of psychoactive drugs whose core chemical structure is the fusion of a benzene ring and a diazepine ring. The drug works by enhancing the effect of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) at the GABA receptor in the brain, producing a hypnotic effect. The drug, which was accidentally discovered in 1955 by Leo Sternbach, helps some people with high-anxiety. However, it can also be detrimental to one’s well-being.

Hallucinations, insomnia, psychosis, excitability, irritability, aggressive behavior, agitation, hostility, anxiety, vivid dreams, hyperactivity, organic disinhibition, depersonalization, apathy, excitement, feeling mad, illusion, nightmares, sleep disorders, suicide ideation, and rage are just a few of the side effects caused by benzos.

When Chris last spoke to his wife before the show, she explained that her husband sounded normal and was making plans for their upcoming vacation. He did not sound like he wanted to be dead.

“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.”


However, when they spoke after the show, just before he took his own life, Vicky notes, all that changed after he took an Ativan.

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“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,” she continued. “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.”

As Rolling Stone reports, an attorney for the Cornell family, Kirk Pasich, reiterated Vicky’s belief that an extra dosage of Ativan — an anxiety medication often employed by recovering addicts — altered Chris Cornell’s mental faculties after the Detroit show. Pasich added that the Cornell family is “disturbed at inferences that Chris knowingly and intentionally took his life.”

“Without the results of toxicology tests, we do not know what was going on with Chris — or if any substances contributed to his demise,” Pasich said. “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.”

Pasich added, as Rolling Stone reports, that side effects of Ativan include “paranoid or suicidal thoughts, slurred speech and impaired judgment.” Vicky Cornell noted her husband’s slurred speech following the Detroit concert in her statement.

She added, “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.”

Cornell’s fate is, unfortunately, not an isolated one.

Last year, the suicide rate in the United States reached record levels, according to a federal analysis. Even more worrisome is a study from this year that shows an “alarming” rise in children being hospitalized with suicidal thoughts or actions.

The study concluded that the number of children and adolescents admitted to children’s hospitals for thoughts of suicide or self-harm more than doubled during the last decade.

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While this latest study stopped short of attempting to locate the cause for this spike in suicide, it is important to point out the elephant in the living room.

There have been 150 studies in 17 countries on antidepressant-induced side effects. There have been 134 drug regulatory agency warnings from 11 countries, and the EU warning about the dangerous side effects of antidepressants.

Suicide, birth defects, heart problems, hostility, violence, aggression, hallucinations, self-harm, delusional thinking, homicidal ideation, and death are just a few of the side effects caused by psychiatric medication.

Despite the deadly laundry list of potential reactions to these medications, the use of antidepressants has skyrocketed by 400% since 1988. 

Currently, 11 percent of all Americans 12 years of age and over take antidepressant medication. This is a higher rate than all other countries in the world.

While the skyrocketing use of psychiatric drugs in adults is certainly worrisome, the exponential increase of use in children is downright scary.

Currently, over 1 million babies and toddlers, from 0 to 5-years-old, are on psychiatric drugs. This massive number of prescriptions exists in spite of the glaring lack of information showing the efficacy of such drugs on such young children.

But starting them young does keep them on the pills as they get older.

The number of kids taking psychiatric drugs quadruples once those children turn 6. There are currently over 4 million children ages 6-12 currently taking these drugs.

Another 4.5 million kids, aged 0-17, are taking ADHD drugs and over 2 million children are on antidepressants. As for the drug Cornell was on, Ativan, there are over 2 million children taking benzos as well.

Aside from the known side-effects, there are incidents of the drug companies deliberately falsifying the safety data and allowing a known dangerous drug to be given to children. For years, GlaxoSmithKline was illegally persuading doctors to prescribe paroxetine, sold under the brand name Paxil, as an antidepressant for children and teenagers.

GSK used contrived data, known as Study 329, which was conducted and funded by the drug company and published in 2001, to convince the doctors to write scripts. The study made the claim that Paxil is “well tolerated and effective” for kids. Their bolstered claims worked, and in 2002 alone, doctors wrote two million Paxil prescriptions for children and adolescents.

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However, a study published in the British Medical Journal this year suggests that not only was Paxil ineffective but it was causing grave side-effects such as self-harm and suicide.

Let that sink in.

Not only are doctors handing out psychoactive drugs like candy at the behest of their drug sales reps, but the drug manufacturers are lying about the dangers.

We have no way of knowing the long-term societal impact of millions of children being irresponsibly given potentially dangerous psychoactive medication, as this is a relatively new path Americans have embarked upon.

The website does, however, provide a potential glimpse into the future of a country hellbent on medicating infants with psychiatric drugs. The database is a collection of over 6,000 stories that have appeared in the media (newspapers, TV, scientific journals) in which prescription drugs were mentioned and in which the drugs may be linked to a variety of adverse outcomes including violence.

As the Free Thought Project reported this week, mass murderer Dylann Roof was on antidepressants when he went on a mass killing spree.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, there is the good news. All of this over-medication, all of the drugs being given to children, all of it is voluntary — for now anyway. This entire massive over-medication epidemic could and should stop overnight through simply spreading the information.

The mother who allows her 8-month-old child to be prescribed antidepressants only does so out of ignorance. We can only better ourselves as humans and as individuals through seeking a lesser ignorance.

And now, thanks to Chris Cornell’s brave wife, Vickie, this issue is being forced into the mainstream.

Arguably one of the greatest ROCK singers of all time wasn’t killed by cocaine or heroin — but, likely, an FDA approved drug that causes suicide.

Please share this article with your friends and family to empower them with knowledge while at the same time exposing such a dangerous practice. In his death, Cornell can still help keep others alive.

Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor at Large at the Free Thought Project. Follow @MattAgorist on Twitter, Steemit, and now on Facebook.
  • Damiana
    • Abz B Zbas

      Cat? Is that you?

      • Damiana


        • Abz B Zbas

          I think I found you on Cracked too.

          • Damiana

            Probably. I’m a big fan of the site!

  • Shoreline1

    I’ve tried a few of the prescription mood or behavioral modifying drugs and really didn’t care for them. I think about suicide periodically, and often those drugs just made suicidal thoughts seem more pleasant. It’s not that I’m psychotic or anything, it’s just that I don’t recall being all that happy before I was born, either. Maybe I can kind of associate with Cornell’s frame of mind.

    • Abz B Zbas

      I don’t recall anything before I was born. LOL. But seriously, here’s hoping you do find something happy in your life.

      • IceTrey

        You’re a young soul.

  • Damiana
  • IceTrey

    So he overdosed.

    • Elizabeth Farrell

      He hung himself after taking ativan and he may have taken more than he was prescribed.

      • IceTrey

        What do YOU call taking more than prescribed?

        • Charles Stein

          I take Ativan for anxiety. My doctor prescribes 30 pills that should last me up to 6 months and only taken when needed. One a day is way overdoing it. When abused Ativan can do just the opposite of what it was intended for.

  • Gordon Scott Chip Page

    iam so upset about his passing. i cant believe it. something is not right. adavan?? seriously??? nfw!!!!!

  • Steve

    OK… so WHEN are we going to take on Big Pharma? WHEN? Way too many people have died as the result of their wares.

  • alexandra

    The USA is the only country in the world other than New Zealand that allow big pharma to advertise. Petition to ban the drug lobbyists, cease the advertisements and kick backs to Doctors/medical institutions. Big pharma in the US spend more on advertising than it does research. Hence the USA is the most heavily over medicated country in the world.

  • Jade W

    Medication are prescribed because they bring relief to a pre-existing problem. So many people get enormous relief and are able to live functional lives and eventually come off medications. If your political agenda was nuanced you could be helpful. Being so undiscerning in your views could costs lives too. It’s about balance, allowing whatever modality works and safe use of that modality. Ativan saves many lives but you don’t hear about all those good news stories.

    • Craig Cooksey

      Just wait until its someone you love. If you live long enough you will see. Dont feel bad though because your thought process is normal and that is why the world is such a horrible place. congrats!!!

      • Jade W

        Wow Craig, please refrain from making dangerously incorrect assumptions. This is an extremely seriously matter and demands to be addressed far more responsibly than this article has.

  • Michele

    The problem I see, that no one wants to discuss is why is he taking the drug? I guarantee he did not have an “ativan” deficiency. He had depression and instead of making lifestyle changes to help with that, he was prescribed a drug with harmful side effects. It is a prevailing problem in society. Everyone takes drug to cover up problems instead of dealing with the true cause. Just because a doctor will write a prescription, does not mean it will fix a problem. Nobody wants to change their diet to avoid type 2 diabetes, nobody wants to change their career or lifestyle to help with heart problems, nobody wants to learn coping mechanisms to avoid anxiety,etc. Everyone wants a miracle pill to make them better instead of putting effort into fixing the real cause of the problem.

    • JaneDoughnut

      Depression isn’t necessarily fixed by lifestyle changes. In fact, it can make lifestyle changes feel impossible. These drugs are a godsend sometimes.We need to make the potential side effects known but we don’t need to quit prescribing them entirely.

    • Damiana

      I guarantee he did not have an “ativan” deficiency.

      I’m sure it’s far more complicated than that, but you get an upvote anyway, for making me chuckle!

  • Laura Hudson

    Please be cautious about demonizing psych drugs. Chris’s death was a tragic loss that can quite possibly be attributed to the side effects of the drugs he was taking and I agree that as a nation, we are taking way too many drugs and many of those drugs need far more testing. That said, I need to remind folks that while psychiatric drugs can be dangerous they can also save lives. My husband declared on many occasions that getting meds for his depression literally saved his life. Unfortunately, after being relatively stable for several years (but not cured of the brain chemistry imbalance that gave him the lifelong depression he suffered from) he decided to cold turkey his meds and try some herbal stuff that helped a friend. He quickly spiraled into a horrible depression that he spent the next two years trying to claw his way out of. He tried more herbs, he tried more meds, he ate healthy, exercised daily, did yoga, prayed, meditated, watched funny shows, went to therapy and forced himself to try everything he could to alleviate the depression. He never made it back out. He took his own life July of 2013. Please don’t characterize psychiatric meds as universally bad. They aren’t the answer for everyone just like insulin isn’t the answer for every diabetic but they are lifesavers for some.

  • Carolyn

    Chris Cornell died by suicide. He was one of my favorite singers, and he had everything to live for so why suicide? It may be due to something not many people realize so I want to share my personal story. It is a little difficult to share this, but I do it in the hope of preventing tragic and hopefully avoidable deaths in other families.

    I am 100% certain there are thousands of people who commit suicide every year because (AND ONLY BECAUSE) they are taking a prescription medication that literally caused them to do it. I believe wholeheartedly that is what happened to Chris Cornell. I say that because I believe I survived what he experienced in his final moments.

    My tragedy began in 2013 when I was having a lot of uncomfortable symptoms due to aging and a few different doctors prescribed Xanax. The Xanax alleviated my uncomfortable physical symptoms, but it also gave me a much worse problem–it made me completely suicidal. I was not depressed or suicidal before taking Xanax. I was 48 years old, happily married, in a career I love, and happy with my life. It was the prescription that made me sick and turned me into a completely different and suicidal person.

    Xanax literally “high jacked” my brain. That’s the most accurate way I can describe it. It made me wake up every day thinking of ways to end my life — completely against my will and normal personality. I was like a suicidal “robot” while on Xanax. I tried to kill myself four times. We couldn’t figure out why I was doing that, and the doctors kept insisting I needed more benzodiazepine drugs or different ones. They prescribed Xanax, Klonopin, and Ativan at different times. They insisted the drugs weren’t the problem even though they went to medical school for 8 years where they learned those meds can cause suicidal thoughts and actions. SMH. Doctors don’t always know what’s right.

    Six months into this nightmare we finally found a doctor who decided to take me off the benzodiazepines. After I got off the meds ALL my suicidal thoughts and actions went away completely. I went back to my normal self. It was the meds that messed me up. I have had no problems with suicidal thoughts or actions since stopping the medications.

    I’ll also tell you those meds made me 100% agoraphobic and anxious. Before the meds I used to love to go shopping, attend craft shows, see movies, and walk our dogs. While on the meds I was too terrified to do any of those things. The meds completely changed who I was. It’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever been through in my life.

    So now every time I hear of a person who died from suicide, my first thoughts are always “I wonder if that person was on meds. Meds probably did this to them. I bet they would never do this in their non-medicated mind.” I read all the news articles to see if that person was on Xanax, Klonopin, or Ativan, etc. Sure enough many, many suicide victims are. I call them “victims” because they are truly victims of those meds in my humble opinion.

    I post these messages to warn people. Please warn people. Tell them my story if you need to. Better yet, tell their family members the meds could be their ENTIRE problem. The person on the meds will not be well enough to understand this issue or the seriousness of it. That’s why you need to tell their family members. Please share this post if you care to because this issue needs to be talked about openly and often in order to save lives.

    I realize meds help some people so I can’t say that nobody should ever take them, but please know they can do much more harm than good too. In my humble opinion it’s a “crap shoot”. You don’t know if meds are going to help you or cause you to kill yourself. That’s very scary and not worth the risk in my opinion. Even being supervised did not stop my attempts to commit suicide. My husband asked his mom to stay with me while he went to work because he couldn’t trust me alone, and I went upstairs onto our roof and contemplated jumping off while she was downstairs. I thank God I survived this 7-month nightmare and lived to tell this story in an attempt to help others. I am heartbroken that Chris Cornell’s suicide attempt took his life.

    I wish everyone knew how dangerous prescription drugs can be. I hope these words save some lives someday. I believe Chris Cornell’s death was in no way his fault. It is the fault of a horrible prescription drug that drug companies sell for major profits. Some doctors push these meds because they receive incentives from the drug company representatives for prescribing them. They are given luxurious vacations, gifts, and constant free food for their entire staff on a daily basis. I saw the food incentives being given firsthand while I was in the waiting room of my doctor’s office. It’s unethical and sickening! To me they have blood on their hands for doing this because of the many innocent people who are dying due to the negative effects of prescription drugs.

    Please also know that while I was taking the meds I was completely powerless over them. Before I started taking the Xanax I was afraid to even take it because of the possible side effects. I kept a log of how often I was taking it and I took the lowest dose possible because I didn’t want to become addicted to it. I knew the bottle said it could cause suicidal thoughts, but I always thought that meant if I get those thoughts I’ll just stop taking the med and that would fix the problem. That’s not how it worked at all.

    While on Xanax I could not even tell my husband I was having suicidal thoughts. I was literally sneaking out of the house at 2 a.m. to try and kill myself. I could not “reason” my way through this nightmare because that drug literally “high jacked” my brain. I woke up every day on automatic pilot thinking of ways to end my life and then acting on those thoughts. I find it extremely unexplainable that a drug can do that to a person, but it did. I know because I experienced it.

    I wish the drug companies would develop a test to determine who will be affected negatively by prescription medications so those people can avoid taking them. Much research needs to be done in that area. I don’t know if a test like that is even possible, but it’s worth a try since they will probably never stop selling those medications.

    Let me also tell you that 25 years before my nightmare on Xanax my mom tried to commit suicide out of nowhere. Like me she showed no prior signs of being depressed or suicidal. She was taking Ativan for anxiety, and out of the blue we got a call one day from our dad saying she was found unresponsive in the basement. She woke up from her coma in the hospital with no idea why she did that. She came so close to death that her doctor told us God saved her. At the time none of us could figure out why that happened. It was only a year after my experience that I realized why she did it. It was because of the Ativan she was taking for anxiety. I have no doubt about that. Chris Cornell was on Ativan too. From my experience and my mom’s experience, I have no doubt it was Ativan that caused his suicide. He had everything to live for. He loved his wife, kids, and career. He started a foundation to help kids. He was planning a vacation with is family. He had no signs of being suicidal. Ativan did this to him. I have no doubt about that. Prescription drugs kill many people.

    I have been trying to get this information out to the public since 2013 when it happened to me. I post my story on my Facebook page and in some of the comments sections about suicide victims I see in the news. I do this in an effort to save lives.

    I pray that the legacy of Chris Cornell’s death will be that his wife and other family members of famous suicide victims will start a worldwide campaign to educate the public about the dangers of these medications. And I pray that campaign will save many, many lives.

    RIP, Mr. Cornell. The music in Heaven is even more spectacular now that you are there.


    Carolyn Hayward Williams

  • Julia Hartman

    I have been watching this problem for over a dozen years now. Soldiers increasing suicide rates. Kids on killing sprees. No one is paying enough attention. When you hear a story about someone acting in a way that sounds crazy it is likely that you will later read that they were on or had just quit anti-depressants. I hope Vicky Cornell can bring the attention to this horrible problem that is long overdue.