The Last Days of Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell was fully immersed in work and family in the weeks before his startling death on Wednesday night at age 52. Although a medical examiner ruled that the former Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman died of suicide by hanging, his family insisted in a statement released through their attorney that the devoted husband and father would not have knowingly and intentionally taken his own life — and question whether any “substances” played a role in his death. Cornell was issued a prescription for Ativan, the family shared, and may have taken a higher dosage that impaired his judgement. Attorney Kirk Pasich noted that Ativan can cause paranoid or suicidal thoughts and slurred speech.

Ativan is a tranquilizer and anti-anxiety medication that is sometimes used as a sleeping aid. In speaking out against a medical examiner’s preliminary finding that Chris Cornell died of suicide by hanging, his family said he was not suicidal and suggested that side effects of prescription drugs could have led to his death. Specifically, they point out that the Seattle-based Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman may have taken “an extra Ativan or two” before his death and wonder if this commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medication affected his actions. According to his wife Vicky, Cornell was slurring his words when she spoke to him on the phone after his show. He admitted to her that he had taken more than his prescribed dose of Ativan. Vicky Cornell said the call prompted her to contact security to ask that they check on him. Cornell family’s attorney Kirk Pasich said in a statement that the family is “disturbed” by inferences that Cornell 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.”

Ativan is the brand name for lorazepam,a benzodiazepine, that is used to treat anxiety, drug withdrawal, agoraphobia and seizure disorders, among other things. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, serious side effects of using Ativan include worsening depression, unusual mood or behavior and suicidal thoughts. Like all benzodiazepines, Ativan is mostly intended for short-term use and comes with a risk of dependance and addiction. The addiction and recovery website The Fix puts dependance on “benzos”  in more dire terms, describing addiction to drugs in this class as particularly grueling and potentially lethal.

“When it comes to prescription drugs that are not only able to kill you but can drag out the final reckoning for years on end, with worsening misery at every step of the way, it is hard to top the benzodiazepines,” writer Christopher Byron says in the 2011 post, which is headlined “Is this the world’s deadliest pill?” 

The brand name for other benzos include Valium, famously known as “mother’s little helper”; Restoril, which was developed as a short-term treatment for insomnia but became known as the “date rape” drug; and Xanax, which at one point may have accounted for 60 percent of all hospital admissions for addiction, Byron said. Then there is Klonopin, the brand name for the pill known as clonazepam, which was originally brought to the market in 1975 as a medication for epileptic seizures. Since then, Klonopin, as well as other benzos, have become “a prescription of choice for drug abusers from Hollywood to Wall Street.”

Cornell performed what would be his final Soundgarden show at Detroit’s Fox Theater Wednesday evening, and attendee Ken Settle, a rock photographer, said the musician initially seemed “joyous” onstage, even doing fist bumps and hand slaps with audience members: “He’d always been, back in the early days especially, kind of a brooding performer, more introspective, sometimes looking down at his guitar most of the time with his hair in his face. At this show, it was the opposite of that.”

In an ominous sign, however, Settle said the band ended with a Led Zeppelin song woven in with one of their own: “In My Time of Dying. It’s a very odd choice to weave that in and now it does make you wonder,” he said. “There is so much that does point to a person who perhaps knew what was coming up, which is so sad. It makes me look at my pictures to search his eyes to see if there is a clue, something he’s saying that people were missing.”

Later that night, Cornell was tragically found dead inside his hotel room within Detroit’s MGM Grand Hotel. A veteran gig photographer who attended Chris Cornell's final show has said that the star's behaviour was "odd", hours before he died in his hotel room. The father-of-three was still making, releasing and touring music in his final days. Detroit-based photographer Ken Settle has been shooting at gigs since the Seventies and photographed Soundgarden's early performances when they first toured in the late Eighties. He has taken the opportunity to watch a show and take photos whenever they play since. Settle told US publication People that Cornell's performance and behaviour on Wednesday night, at the city's Fox Theatre, was different to in previous shows. Cornell was "more joyous than I’d ever seen him before", Settle said. "He’d always been, back in the early days especially, kind of a brooding performer, more introspective, sometimes looking down at his guitar most of the time with his hair in his face. At this show, it was the opposite of that.”

Cornell praised the Detroit crowd but said something which, in light of his subsequent death, seemed ominous, Settle said: "He followed it by saying, ‘I feel really sorry for the next city.'

"I took that to mean at the time, he said it that the next city won’t compare to the show they would put on in Detroit. In retrospect… it almost sounded like he wasn’t going to show up in the next town. That kind of gives me pause."

He often staggered back and forth acrossthe stage, and seemed weak in his movements. 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. He missed words, sometimes in entire blocks, letting the crowd sing the parts of the songs he didn’t. Nobody complained; in fact, the audience of about 5,000 seemed to love it. Cornell was visibly agitated at times. He walked off the stage for several minutes before playing Been Away Too Long, causing the band to start over and leaving them playing instrumentals to fill the gap. When he came back onstage, he made a “move it along” motion with his hand. Bandmate and bassist Ben Shepherd laughed it off, but then Cornell took to the mic to complain that he didn’t have a backup guitar. Been Away Too Long, which was Soundgarden’s 2012 comeback single from the album King Animal after a more than decade-long breakup, was played as a strange, bass-heavy rendition that moved in the wrong direction. Then there was Cornell’s irritability. His vocals were often lagging, not in sync with the music. At times, he stopped singing completely and gave up for several seconds before catching back on with his bandmates. Maybe he was exhausted. After all, Cornell, who is known for his four-octave vocal range and having one of the most versatile voices in rock ’n’ roll, spends the majority of his time screaming into the mic — naturally, that will take a toll.

Then there's the issue that Cornell's death was just another Illuminati sacrifice. 

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