New details are emerging about what went on prior to Chris Cornell hanging himself in a Detroit hotel room May 17.
A police report obtained by The Detroit News says that the Soundgarden frontman hung himself with an elastic workout band from a bathroom door after taking an “extra” dose of his anti-anxiety medication.
The report said that Cornell’s wife, Vicky, had a conversation with him by telephone shortly after he played a sold-out show with Soundgarden at the historic Fox Theatre. In the conversation, her husband sounded groggy kept telling her, “I am just tired” before hanging up.
Vicky said in a statement to authorities that she spoke to Chris at around 11:35 p.m. on Wednesday and he told her that he may have taken “an extra Ativan or two,” noting that he seemed to be slurring his words before hanging up.
After that conversation, Vicky contacted her husband’s bodyguard, Martin Kirsten, to check on his well-being.
Kirsten went to room 1136 at the MGM Grand Hotel in Detroit just after midnight May 18 to find the door latched shut. He contacted hotel security, which told him that they “can not let him into the room because he is not registered to it.”
Upon being denied, Kristen took matters into his own hands and kicked in the door, noticing that the second door that led to the suite was latched. Kirsten kicked through that door as well and found Cornell slumped over on the floor in the bathroom with “blood running from his mouth.” The report said that Kirsten noticed a “red exercise band” tied around his neck.
The elastic band is often attached to a carabiner and is commonly used for mountain climbers. It’s typically attached to a belt to keep climbers from falling, and is designed to withstand a heavy amount of weight. The band was reportedly attached to the carabiner and jammed into the top of the bathroom’s door. TMZ reported that the door was jammed so tight that it “left an indentation in the door frame.”
Officers from the Detroit Police Gaming Unit responded to the scene after Kirsten contacted them. The bodyguard told police that he was in Cornell’s room at around 11:30 p.m., just before he spoke with Vicky, fixing a computer for him. After doing so, Kirsten reportedly gave Cornell two pills of Ativan, which is used to treat anxiety. Side effects from Ativan include confusion, hostility, hallucinations, drowsiness, and insomnia.
A medic from the MGM arrived in the room at 12:56 a.m., untying the band from Cornell’s neck and started performing CPR on him. He wasn’t breathing at the time and was pronounced dead at 1:30 a.m. on May 18. Authorities contacted Vicky to tell her the unfortunate news.
Cornell’s wife and his family blame the Ativan for directly contributing toward his death.
Vicky issued a statement to the media one day after his unexpected death. She said that her husband’s passing was caused by the Ativan. She added that if he killed himself, he clearly wasn’t in the right state of mind thanks to the drug.
The family’s lawyer said they aren’t ready to admit his death was a suicide, citing upcoming toxicology reports as being the key for seeing what was going on in Cornell’s head. He added that the Ativan has potential to cause paranoia or suicidal thoughts.
“The family believes if Chris took his life, he did not know what he was doing, and that drugs or other substances may have affected his actions,” he said to TMZ.
Hours before taking his life, Cornell gave his last performance in front of a Detroit crowd, and “something seemed off,” Ashley Zlatopolsky wrote to the Detroit Free Press.
Zlatopolsky wrote that the night started “just like another Soundgarden show.” But that didn’t last long, as Cornell seemed “visibly agitated at times,” she wrote.
Cornell reportedly missed words to songs, even walking off of the stage for a while when playing a song. She said that his usual spot-on vocals were “lagging” and “not in sync with the music.”
Before playing “My Wave,” he said to the crowd, “You can burn crosses on your lawn, I don’t give a f***. You can burn your house down. Who cares? I don’t. As long as you don’t catch someone else’s house on fire.”
Cornell uttered one line at the show that has since taken on an entirely different meaning. “I feel bad for the next city,” he eerily said.
At one point of the show, Cornell grabbed the guitar and played a solo with the guitar backward over his head.
Zlatopolsky said to it was “a cathartic-like moment,” saying “the singer-guitarist let himself shine one last time.”