Chris Cornell: How Prescribed Ativan Led To the Psychosis-Fueled Suicide of a Superstar

Chris Cornell

Seems in the last week, we have all fallen on black days. Brought to our proverbial knees by the shocking news of Chris Cornell’s suicide by hanging. From Stone Temple Pilots to Nirvana to Alice in Chains and now Soundgarden, pretty much all the greatest 90’s rock acts are now disbanded because their lead singer either O.D’d or offed himself. And while some cases hurt like hell but made some sense (Kurt Cobain sang about depression and suicide a lot, Layne Staley from Alice in Chains sang about drugs and how they would eventually kill him) but the kicker here is, Chris was touring and happy and showed NO signs of depression to anyone around him leading up to the event. There is a very simple reason for that. Chris Cornell didn’t want to kill himself. He had just planned a couple family trips and had a particularly cool Memorial day trip he had planned for his family as well. The problem was, Chris Cornell was on Benzodiazepines (AKA Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin etc), and as a former addict, that is NOT a drug that should be prescribed at all. Truth is, outside of Booze, Benzos are the ONLY DRUG that can kill you from withdrawing. You know what else it is well-known for?

Causing psychosis. 

Trust me, I learned the hard way by almost dying from the stuff a fucking WEEK BEFORE Chris Cornell did. From a bandmate who was on tour with him to his own wife, everyone agrees that the Ativan Chris was on led to a small mental breakdown in the end, which was the ultimate causation of his suicide.

Let’s delve a little deeper…..

The Obvious

Chris Cornell did not come across as depressed at all. Yes, he may have written some morose and dark music in the 90’s, but so did everyone but the Spice Girls. We were all maladjusted and the “grunge” movement (God I hate that term) captured that rage and ennui perfectly.
But this wasn’t 90’s Chris, either. It is 2017 and he had moved beyond that morose music a bit if you have kept abreast of the man’s musical achievements. 

But those last few days before it happened, everyone noticed something was up with Chris. Not in a depressed way but in a “drugged haze” kind of way. His wife had spoken with him that last night after his show and she was very alarmed at the mental state he sounded like he was in.

She stated clearly that when she talked to him the last night, he was not making sense, was mumbling his words and was completely out of it and mentally elsewhere. As you can imagine it unsettled her but when you are thousands of miles away, what can you do? She asked if he was okay and he seemed to think he was so that was that. In a statement she released she said:

"When we spoke after the show, I noticed he was slurring his words; he was different. When he told me he may have taken an extra Ativan or two, I contacted security and asked that they check on him," she continued. "What happened is inexplicable and I am 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."

While it could be said that denial plays a huge part when someone takes their life, there is no one on Earth who knew him like his wife, and for her to say he wouldn’t do that to his kids makes me believe he would NOT do that to his kids (or his wife for that matter).

Benzos and The Newfound Epidemic

Xanax and Ativan are pills that are used by people who get anxiety so they can maintain that and not have a stroke three times a day or worry themselves to death. As far as being effective, I was on them for years and can tell you, they are effective as FUCK! Stressed, annoyed, bugging out over bills and relationship problems? Pop a Benzo and feel that stress melt away like ice cream left on a dashboard in the summer. The problem is, the chemical makeup of our bodies adjust to that dosage, and what starts as a half a pill once a week turns into one a day, turns into 3 a day. That is when the problem starts.

You see, when you take Benzos they work so well you sometimes don’t even remembering taking a Benzo. This leads to taking a second Benzo. Now you are kind of out of it, so you forget again and take a third. Believe it or not, there is a level you can reach within your own body when the Benzos immediately go from being chill to making you crazy, literally. It is called Benzodiazepine psychosis, and having put my hand through a window while in an episode, completely unbeknownst to me, I can attest to the fact that Benzo psychosis is very much a real thing, and is scary and dangerous as fuck.

Chris’ wife thinks he took one that day and then another before show and then another at home and then perhaps drank something. At that point, your mind can go into VERY dark places. The kind of place where you make a noose and hang yourself even though you are not actually depressed but rather, in a deep, hallucinatory psychosis that is 100% real to you.

Yeah, no joke.

A Musical God Has Fallen

I don’t just want to only talk about Chris Cornell’s death because that is shining a bright light on but a small and crappy aspect of the man’s amazing life. First of all, he looked how every man on earth wants to look, so there is that. Then you stack the talent on it and realize Chris Cornell was otherworldly. It could very well be argued by ANYONE that, outside of Freddie Mercury and Mike Patton, Chris Cornell had the best pipes in music. 
Proof, you ask?

He could sing brutal rock songs, had a scream range like NO other:

He could sing gospel hymnals in an operatic voice that gives you chills:

He could sing mellow, let’s-do-it songs:

His covers were some of the best ever:

He did some “hip hop” flavored stuff with Timbaland:

And he even had a James Bond theme for fuck’s sake:

So one thing I do not want to hear from anyone is how some talentless, old hack took his life. Nope, saw the guy last year with Soundgarden and Nine Inch Nails at a massive venue and the man was FAR from being beaten down or over. He had a vigor that matched his 90’s bravado. Truth is, many people who saw him that night at that final show said something was off. He was not himself at all, but no one knew what was up.

Along with his wife and close friends, I genuinely believe Chris Cornell did not willingly take his life. He was fucked up on Benzos and had no idea what was going on. And if this leads some ultra conservatives to call him a druggy who did it to himself, don’t you dare forget it was a doctor who initially told Chris those would help him. Let’s lynch that fucker and leave Chris alone. He and his family have suffered enough at this point.

Doctors Who Prescribe Death

Keep in mind, prescribed pills also took out Prince and Michael Jackson, just to name a few. Let us not forget, these were pills given by professionals to these people, and these pills ended up taking their lives or being a major factor in their deaths. That is not okay, and we as a society need to start holding the proper people accountable. Yes, the FDA and doctors, straight up. They are the worst drug dealers in our country and this epidemic is only set to get worse and worse.

Remember kids, Doctors get huge bonuses for getting people hooked on pills. I wish I was lying to you but only the naive don’t know that in 2017, real talk.
So please understand, Xanax, Ativan, and other Benzodiazepines are NOT to be fucked with. The long term damage they can do, as you can see here, is massive in scale and not to be ignored by our society any longer.

So in closing, I would like to say thank you to Chris Cornell and offer my support and sympathy to his family, friends, and fans. Badmotorfinger was one of the first CD’s I ever bought, and every track, from Slaves and Bulldozers to Room A Thousand Years Wide awed me, and you guys only got better from there. Add to that Temple of the Dog, your fantastic, Beatle-esque solo albums, your work with Audioslave and your constant album releases and jaw-dropping cover songs that always seemed to be popping up, you made me want to be “cool” and you made me want to be a musician. Granted, I am neither, but I will always hold what you did in the highest regard and I will not remember you for your final moments but rather, all the joy you brought me and how much ass you kicked, vocally.

And rest assured, we WILL hold the fuckers accountable who put you on Benzos. Even Dr. Drew knows someone fucked up huge there.

Oh, and if you or someone you love is on Benzos, get them or you off that shit. It WILL kill youor them, as it has killed some souls far better than us already. 
And let’s end this piece right. 
Get ready to weep……

(Author's Note: The news about 'fresh track marks' on Chris Cornell's arms at the time of his death had not yet been released to the public when this article was written and published. In the wake of that news, it changes little and only seems to make this an even more easily avoidable tragedy, unfortunately.
All we can do is continue to offer our condolences to his wife, children, and family, and also mention, if you know someone who is depressed and/or reliant on drugs that may be killing them, intervene. It is not our job to save people who cannot save themselves, but we can sure as fuck try. Goodbye Chris, no one sings like you anymore....)