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UPDATED: Chris Cornell’s Family Questions Suicide Ruling, Cite Prescription Medication

Chris Cornell
Cooper Neill, Getty Images

Chris Cornell‘s wife and lawyer are urging fans to wait for more information on the Soundgarden frontman’s death, disputing a medical examiner’s ruling of suicide.

“Without the results of toxicology tests, we do not know what was going on with Chris – or if any substances contributed to his demise,” Cornell family attorney Kirk Pasich argued in a statement released today. “Chris, a recovering addict, had a prescription for Ativan and may have taken more Ativan than recommended dosages.”

His wife Vicky Cornell also shed new light on Chris Cornell’s final days – and how the singer seemed different on the night of his death.

“His world revolved around his family first and, of course, his music, second,” Vicky said, in her own official statement. “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.”

It was only after Soundgarden’s performance on Wednesday at the Fox Theatre in Detroit that she sensed something was wrong. “When we spoke after the show, I noticed he was slurring his words; he was different,” Vicky added. “When he told me he may have taken an extra Ativan or two, I contacted security and asked that they check on him.”

The 52-year-old’s death was confirmed on Thursday, after his body was discovered in a MGM Grand Detroit hotel bathroom just hours after the concert. Later that same day, the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office said Cornell’s death was “determined as hanging by suicide,” though they noted that “a full autopsy report has not yet been completed.”

That report might offer a clearer understanding of the singer’s confusing end, which happened amid a very busy work schedule. “The family believes that if Chris took his life, he did not know what he was doing,” Pasich added, “and that drugs or other substances may have affected his actions.”

UPDATE, Noon: A local reporter seems to back up this theory of events, saying something seemed off with Cornell that night at the Fox Theatre. “He often staggered back-and-forth across the stage, and seemed weak in his movements,” Ashley Zlatopolsky writes in the Detroit Free Press. “Just one or two songs in, it was as if the energy had exited his body, and what was left was a shell of a man scrambling to do his job. … It’s not that the nearly two-hour show itself was bad, but it seemed like Cornell wasn’t mentally present.”

Vicky Cornell, with whom Chris had two children, described his passing as “a loss that escapes words” and something that “has created an emptiness in my heart that will never be filled.” She added that she is “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.”

UPDATE, 2 p.m.: Rolling Stone filled in more elements of the timeline, based on a police report. Cornell’s bodyguard Martin Kirsten gave him the Ativan, and also discovered the singer’s body – knocking down first the outer hotel room door and then the bathroom door, after receiving a frantic phone call from Vicky Cornell. Meanwhile, TMZ is also reporting specifics on the manner in which Cornell hanged himself.

Vicky and Chris Cornell married in 2004, as he geared up for Out of Exile, the second album by his post-Soundgarden band Audioslave.

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