Music News Chris Cornell of Soundgarden

Published on June 10th, 2017 | by Alan Cross

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A Pharmacist Weighs in on the Chris Cornell Toxicology Report

Even though news coverage of the suicide death of Chris Cornell is beginning to subside, there’s still quite a bit of confusion surrounding the toxicology report and what it all could mean. Vicky Cornell, Chris’ wife, wants to believe that the bizarre behaviour that led to Chris taking his own life was prompted at least in part by an odd interaction of prescription and over-the-counter medicine. Others aren’t so sure.

Dr. Anthony Rosati RPh is a pharmacologist and Chris Cornell fan, He’s been following the investigation on his own and offers these professional conclusions on the toxicology report in an email to me (reprinted here with his permission).

In my professional opinion, I do not think that the medications had anything to do with his death, agreeing with the coroner.

As for the individual drugs, in your article you stated that butalbital and a barbiturate were in his system; however, butalbital is a barbiturate itself. Butalbital is often combined with Tylenol and caffeine in medications to treat migraines. The fact there was caffeine found at higher levels could substantiate this.

The pseudoephedrine, well, could’ve been taken because he had a sinus headache, or, just congested. Also, you stated that naloxone was taken, but was it given by emergency personnel? Because, if not, he very well could have been taking the medication as maintenance treatment for aiding in his recovery from addiction. However, if it was administered via injection, then the responders reacted to suspected overdose.

Finally, the controversy over Ativan….yes, it is used as an anti-anxiety medication and helps those in recovery. I know his wife, Vicky, came out and blamed the medication for suicidal thoughts; this is entirely false. The medication is classified as a benzodiazepine, and, yes, there is a chance (albeit very small) of depression but not the side effects of other mood stabilizing agents, such as Prozac and Zoloft.

I hope that helps.




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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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42 Responses to A Pharmacist Weighs in on the Chris Cornell Toxicology Report

  1. fuck says:

    Why don’t you just leave it alone….. Cornell is dead, the “how” doesn’t matter anymore.
    We lost another amazing legend of rock n roll. Many to come yet.

    Just leave it alone already and stop using it to get hits on your shitty website.

    • Wayne Orsler says:

      Exactly. Who gives a fuck about the analysis, we lost a legend. I don’t need to know the details.

    • ryan michaels says:

      im sorry i disagree, i believe theres more to this story that i have not
      seen addressed, such as foul play. Maybe his wife had this done, maybe not. Police should be looking
      into all phone records and text between all including his body guard

    • Steph D says:

      If you don’t like it, don’t read it.

      I for one as a fan, appreciate knowing a bit more about his state of mind at the time. If the toxicology report clears any chances of a relapse, then at the very least it can maintain his reputation as having cleaned up his act right to the end.

      Now leave this site alone already, so it can be that little bit less shitty with your attitude on it.

  2. Mark says:

    He could’ve been trying to stay awake on the Ativan. One’s usually enough to make me very sleepy, to the point where if I tried to stay awake, I’d be practically acting out my dreams. If I fell asleep on them, I’d be sleepy when I wake up right hours later even. I wouldn’t dare try two or more…

    • S. says:

      I thought of that, too. Although, taking 2 more Ativan a few hours after would nullify the caffeine. Maybe the No-Doz was just to get through the show?? I really wish we could put this whole thing together, but only Chris can say what really happened.

  3. Apple says:

    I’m grateful that more people are speaking up. A druggie narrative is being pushed onto Chris Cornell that he doesn’t deserve. People hear “multiple drugs” and automatically assume illegal drugs or drug abuse, rather than considering the possible medical contexts, the individual drugs themselves, and the fact that many people in our society are on “multiple drugs” every day. Whether or not we are over-medicated as a society is a different debate, of course. But even so, according to the medical examiner’s findings and toxicology report, he was no more of a “druggie” in that regard than the average person. His family needs to step up and make sure the media is getting it correct.

  4. Joe says:

    Your opinion is extremely flawed. Yes ativan and butalbital can lower your inhibitions. This is what’s being debated , not the thoughts themselves. Although suicidal ideation is listed as a potential side effect of ativan. Naloxone does not appear in your blood as it is not absorbed when taken orally for substance abuse. It is to prevent people from injecting the active drug in suboxone buprenorphine. It was most definitely injected by paramedics.
    Time to review your pharmacology doc.

    • PVM says:

      It’s also in every ambulance and administered into people suspected of a heroin or opiate overdose. Looks like YOU need to research better.

  5. not_a_moosehead says:

    2 is just a number. Ativan is not dangerous, I need it occasionally and if used as prescribed it is safe !!! back to the OMG 2, well guess what not every person gets the same milligram per pill. so lets start talking about MG , that’s the amount of medicine, quantity is relative ; 2 pills of what MG (dosage)????

    i’ve had 2 several times and never felt depressed or crazy /etc. i just felt more relaxed and anxiety was very low, that’s what it’s supposed to do

  6. Miss Molly G. says:

    R.I.P. CHRIS CORNELL YOU WILL BE TRUELY MISSED BUT NRVER EVER FORGOTTEN! ! YOU WILL LIVE THROUGH YOUR MUSIC THAT WILL NEVER EVER FADE IN OUR HEART’S AND SOUL!!!

  7. Meg Rafferty says:

    I don’t care what drug your on. Survival is instinctive, and Love is the fuel. He was Loved and Did Love. Keep searching Vicki.

  8. S. says:

    I hate this with every fiber of my being. This is the worst nightmare I’ve ever had. Chris, please… be at peace now.

  9. Angie says:

    Why is it then that when you look up side effects for Ativan, suicidal thoughts is listed? You saying this entirely false makes no sense. I’ve also heard two doctors discuss that suicdial thoughts can be a side effect.

  10. Carolyn Williams says:

    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 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 also do much more harm than good. 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 how 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.

    Sincerely,

    Carolyn Hayward Williams ❤️❤️❤️

    P.S. To everyone reading this message, please share it. Only the light we shed on this issue will dispel the darkness. As Chris Cornell so eloquently sang in Set It Off:

    Jesus at the back door
    Everything is all right
    All we need is some direction
    Every time the wind blows
    Everything you don’t know
    Turns in a revelation
    And it all adds up inside your head
    Time is wasting

  11. Becky says:

    Chris was killed By The hands of Martin kirsten . Martin strangled Chris. They’re no way possible Chris could’ve hung himself we all know that’s a fact. He’s 6’2″ & the door was 2 ” higher. So quit saying he hung himself. Martin had given him his meds, easy way to dope up Chris when he intrusts in his “bodyguard”. Chris was lethargic at end of show, seemed to become more off. Because Martin controlled what Chris took. So by the time he gets to Chris’s room 1136, he gets his computer up to Twitter out to Chris’s fans,but it was Martin as Chris was so dippy by that time, he strangles Chris, stages him on bath door e the red stretch band,but he used the black one that was on the floor next to Chris lifeless body. Vicky never spoke w Chris, she only was on phone w Martin. ALL STAGED!! SICK BASTARD!
    THEN THE WIFE CREMATES CHRIS 1 DAY AFTER HE PASSED!!! THAT IS UNHEARD OF & CORONER SHOULD’VE GONE OVER HER & STOPPED CREMATION SO INVESTAGATORS COULD DO THEIR JOB. BUT NO, SHE GOT RID OF THE EVIDENCE, CHRIS LIKE HE WAS A PIECE OF SHIT.
    VICKY & MARTIN SHOULD BE UNDER INVESTIGATION & IN JAIL UNTIL THEY GET THE TRUTH OUT OF THEM. BY THE WAY, WHERE IS MARTIN KIRSTEN??????
    THIS THEORY IS WHAT 99% OF US KNOW IS TRUE. MANY WEBSITES SAY THE SAME. NOW LET’S GET JUSTICE FOR CHRIS CORNELL, THE INNOCENT, CARING, BEAUTIFUL MAN THAT WE ALL ARE MORNING.

    • Eric says:

      Sounds familiar with what happened to KURT COBAIN, SHE HAD KURT CREMATED AND NO ONE SAID THAT WE SHOULD DO a AUTOPSY!!!!! 🙁

    • Cathy says:

      Your whole theory is that of someone who is in complete denial. You really should be a writer with the way you make stories up in your head. Very sad!

      • JJ says:

        @ “Cathy” YOU NEED TO GET THE HELL OUTTA HERE SINCE YOU BELIEVE SHE IS MAKING UP STORIES IN HER HEAD!!! He was murdered!!!!!! THERE’S WAYYYYY TOO MANY THINGS THAT JUST DON’T ADD UP YOU DUMBASS BITCH!!! SO STFU AND IF YOU DON’T GIVE A SHIT, GO TO HELL!!!!! YOU DEVIL!!!!

        • Cathy says:

          Just being realistic! He loved his wife and she loved him. I know that’s hard to understand since your clearly delusional. He has had a history of depression. If you’re able to comprehend it can be a life long illness. Please get help for your delusion and may God be with you!

        • Cathy says:

          Just being realistic! He loved his wife and she loved him. He stated on numerous occasions that she was his “everything, and best friend. I know that’s hard to understand since your clearly delusional. He has had a history of depression. If you’re able to comprehend- it can be a life long illness. Try to watch some of his interviews to at least learn about him. Great musician, great person. RIP Chris Cornell, you’re truly missed and never forgotten! God be with you!

    • JJ says:

      Well, if y’all don’t “give a fuck” then why are you on here reading and contributing your STUPIDITY??? I’d like to know just WHAT THE HELL happened to this wonderful, gentle, kind, genius, soul!!! At his last concert with Soundgarden, he’s clearly out of it and looks drugged!! If you don’t give a shit what happened to Chris Cornell then STFU and stop commenting!!! HEARTLESS BITCHES AND BASTARDS!!!! :'(

  12. isa shisha says:

    Fioricet -Controlled substance
    Can cause paranoid or suicidal ideation and impair memory, judgment, and coordination. Combining with other substances, particularly alcohol, can slow breathing and possibly lead to death.
    REALLY? noooo way the drugs caused it?? hard to believe…

  13. Steven Del Rizzo says:

    Thanks for making the effort to ask a pharmacist to analyse the toxicology report but I often don’t see outspoken pharmacists that challenge the drug companies, the industry and the ones that have risk their jobs or have lost their jobs. Even if the drug could be dangerous I doubt a pharmacist would tell us more than the listed side effects. I believe the words of a pharmacist or pharmaceutical rep that used to work in the industry. They can provide a thorough analysis but have nothing to lose by speaking out.

  14. Michele says:

    PLEASE LEAVE THIS POOR FAMILY ALONE IF THEY DONT WANT TO READ THIS. I BELIEVE YOU ARE MAKING THEM FEEL WORSE. I KNOW FOR A FACT BEING ONE MYSELF AN ADXICT SHOULD NEVER TAKE A BENZO AND THEY MOST DEFINITELY CAN CAN CAUSE SUICIDAL THOUGHTS! ANYONE WITH DEPRESSION IS AT RISK! I BET THIS SO CALLED PHARMACIST DOESN’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT ADDICTION. PLEASE IM BEGGING YOU LET THIS BEAUTIFUL MAN & FAMILY HAVE PEACE. HIS WIFE, KID AND FRIENDS NEED OUR PRAYERS. NOT OUR JUDGEMENT. I PRAY HE IS WITH JESUS AND IN PEACE!

    • JJ says:

      “POOR FAMILY?” LAUGHABLE!!! The children, I feel VERY sad for them. But his VERY CONTROLLING WIFE and MIL….HELL NO!!! TOO MANY PIECES OF THIS “PUZZLE” ARE NOT FITTING AND SOMETHING IS TERRIBLY WRONG AS VICKY’S STORY HAS CHANGED SO MANY TIMES!!!! HEARTLESS BITCH!!!! :'(
      CRY YOURSELF A FUCKIN FAKE RIVER “Michele” – something is clearly WRONG with this case and should be investigated as a HOMICIDE!!!!

  15. Aaron says:

    Cornell is/was legend! And for everyone that commented on this that has said leave it alone and stop writing about it is being hypocritical.. I assume they read it before commenting.. I personally am just like most people and like information that could help me understand why something so terribly tragic happened to one of the best voices in music ever.

  16. Rachel says:

    I’m just talking from my perspective of things my husband who passed away of cancer a year ago was on ativan and took quite a few at times it never did him in!!! Doctors prescribe him every pain medication in the book!! He had a high tolerance for pain medication so he turned to street drug heroin was his choice and that’s what finally killed him!!! How do we know Chris did not go back to his old ways maybe he died from heroin overdose I did hear that they found by needle in his arm heroin is the worst drug to overcome no matter how many years went by it’s always in the back of your mind maybe he just relapse….. sad but TRUE!!! RIP CHRIS CORNELL!! Definitely Will be missed by many!!! 💔💔💔😢😢😢

    • JJ says:

      Needle marks were from EMT giving Chris Cornell a “drug” to try to reverse any side effects from any Opiodes” in his system, which there weren’t ANY!!!!! my god you people are so fuckin stupid!!!!! This is a setup if I ever saw one!!! I believe Chris Cornell was murdered!!!! So “Rachel,” NO, CHRIS DID NOT DO HEROIN AGAIN!!! Don’t you read????!!!! THIS IS WHAT IS CALLED “THE PERFECT MURDER” AND THAT MANIPULATING WIFE BITCH IS REAPING ALL HIS $$$ FROM HIS HARD WORK!!! SHE’S UGLY INSIDE AND OUTSIDE!!! SHE HAD HIM BRAINWASHED AS DID THE MOTHER-IN-LAW!!! THEY ARE EVIL!!!!

  17. Angel says:

    There will always be questions of why someone would commit suicide, it’s a senseless and heartwrenching end to a temporary situation. It affects everyone.
    As a society we tend to immerse ourselves into some strange thought of how could someone that has it all, do something so tragic and permanent? Obviously, it has nothing to do with “having it all.” As senseless as suicide is, it’s important to have articles like this, we need to educate ourselves to be aware of the signs, so that we may be able to intervene and save a life.
    Witnessing first hand the aftermath of suicide and how devistating it is, can be a driving force and a means to prevent it from happening to someone else. My hope is that Chris’s suicide will not be in vain, that not only his life be celebrated, but his death be a reminder that we must be more vigilant and proactive in preventing suicide.
    My condolences to his wife, children, family, friends and fans.

  18. Dan p says:

    I was waiting for the toxicology report to come out. Nothing made sense. Chris was the most-together guy of all the grunge rockers.
    With the small amounts of over-counter meds and the fact that out of all his bandmates, no one said they were shocked.
    I think he was very depressed and couldnt handle living any more.
    Thanks for the beautiful legacy

  19. Eliza Oconnor says:

    Married 14 yrs to Susan Silver – Vicky comes along pregnant married and other pregancy not with his band, no camaraderie, some solo touring MIL hanging around prior and after wedding ???? now back with his band and the camaraderie he has stated he missed, was she wondering would he stray from her , Martin Hmmmmmm, why did he need to FIX the computer, according to Chris’s brother Peter he was quite computer literate, the phone call, the time line, the bodyguard. the call to paramedics this does not add up then the quick cremation, Greek Orthodox have a mourning period and then a burial, Vicky and MIL wanted Greek wedding ??? not a Greek funeral, Autopsy’s are not completed so quickly . suspicious. The bodyguard, they are supposed to be in close proximity to the person at all times ???? SUSPIOUS

  20. Karen says:

    It is hard to believe this happened but it did, I think he planned it because of the instruments he used and it is tragic and heartbreaking. The only thing I wish is that he would’ve had a therapist, doctor, or someone with him at all times since he had ongoing Anxiety and depression, He will be missed,

  21. Karen says:

    The idea that the bodyguard did it is ridiculous , they watched the hotel video. The idea that the medication made him do it, is kinda hokey. I think he was ready to check out and we will never know why besides he had a mental illness that should have been more closely monitored.

  22. Courtney_Love says:

    It takes a special kind of fucktard to off himself after he has a family and career. Truth hurts and he was a coward.

  23. Phatdawg says:

    I’m glad you posted this story. With changing stories bizarre behavior by the wife & mother in law it’s not just nutcases & conspiracy theorists thinking something stinks about what we’re being fed by the media the wife seems to have some weird control over. Kudos to you sir for an actual story that makes sense!

  24. Justice for Chris Cornell says:

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