As has been previously reported, the husband and wife’s final phone conversation on the night of his suicide left her unsettled, but only now is the full scope of Cornell’s mental state coming into focus.
Cornell, 52, was touring with Soundgarden at the time of his death. He was found dead in a Detroit hotel room shortly after midnight on Thursday last week; The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office said Cornell, a father of three, hanged himself.
Vicky disputed aspects of that assessment in a statement last week, saying she believed his anxiety medication may have contributed to his death. She referred to his slurred speech during their phone conversation, and Cornell eventually admitted over the phone to taking “an extra Ativan or two.”
In new information gleaned from an alleged conversation between Vicky and her friends and family, she now suspects that Cornell wasn’t just taking Ativan, but even stronger drugs. (The coroner’s report says that Cornell’s death was a suicide, but the rocker’s family contests that conclusion, saying that medication may have played a part.)
READ MORE: Remembering Chris Cornell
During their final phone call, Cornell was acting strangely and was oddly aggressive, said Vicky. She asked him if he’d been playing with the lights in their house (they have a remote app system), as they’d been flicking on and off. He denied it, saying he’d done it “an hour before.” Immediately Vicky thought that was strange, since Cornell and Soundgarden would have been on stage at that point.
Again, as previously reported, she became concerned with his slurred words. Cornell was allegedly complaining about his crew, angrily.
“They f**ked up again,” he said. “They had three days to fix my in-ears and I was getting static. I couldn’t hear. I blew my voice. I blew my voice.”
She said he continued to repeat that phrase, and then started making very little sense. Based on his anger, Vicky asked him what he’d taken, since she says Cornell is never that aggressive. In her heart, she believed it was more than just the extra Ativan; his behaviour brought back memories of his Oxycontin abuse 14 years ago.
Upon recollection of that whole scenario, Vicky panicked and hung up with Cornell, immediately calling his bodyguard, Martin Kirsten. (She says she hasn’t had someone check on Cornell in 14 years, but she had a terrible feeling.)
By the time Kirsten kicked Cornell’s door open, he was already dead, a mere 30 minutes since Vicky hung up the phone with her husband.
While it’s not clear if the Ativan or any other drug he’d ingested had an impact on Cornell’s decisions that night, Vicky denies any use of intravenous drugs on her husband’s part. Earlier reports said that EMTs and police on the scene saw fresh track marks on Cornell’s arm (track marks usually indicate intravenous drug use), but Vicky points out that Cornell was out and about in New York City with her that day, and he was wearing a T-shirt. She says that any track marks would have been obvious to her.
She also attests that Cornell wasn’t known to use needles in the past, either, even when he was dabbling in harder drugs. Vicky penned her husband a heartbreaking letter, saying she was “sorry, my sweet love, that I did not see what happened to you that night.”
Cornell was cremated on Tuesday, and his funeral will be held Friday in Los Angeles. His remains will be buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in a private service.
His family also plans to arrange and hold public memorials for fans of Cornell to grieve and pay tribute.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.
The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.