Story highlights

Cornell took "extra" anxiety medicine just before his death, his widow says

The rocker, a recovering addict, had a prescription for Ativan, a family lawyer says

CNN  — 

Chris Cornell’s widow disputed an official finding that her rocker husband died by suicide and revealed Friday that he had “taken an extra Ativan or two” shortly before he was found unresponsive.

Vicky Cornell became concerned when her husband, the frontman for Soundgarden and Audioslave, told her by phone about his dose of the prescription sedative, which can be used to treat anxiety, she told CNN in a statement. They spoke shortly after Chris Cornell performed a concert Wednesday night in Detroit, she said; he was found around midnight Thursday.

“When we spoke after the show, I noticed he was slurring his words; he was different,” Vicky Cornell said. “When he told me he may have taken an extra Ativan or two, I contacted security and asked that they check on him. What happened is inexplicable, and I am hopeful that further medical reports will provide additional details.”

Cornell does not believe her husband “intentionally” took his own life, she said, adding that the couple had been discussing summer plans right before Chris Cornell went on stage Wednesday.

“I know that he loved our children and he would not hurt them by intentionally taking his own life,” Vicky Cornell said.

The family will wait for toxicology test results to see whether Ativan may have impaired Chris Cornell’s judgment before his death, attorney Kirk Pasich said.

“Chris, a recovering addict, had a prescription for Ativan and may have taken more Ativan than recommended dosages,” Pasich said. “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.”

The Medical Examiner’s Office in Wayne County, Michigan, announced Thursday that Cornell’s cause of death was suicide by hanging.

Cornell’s wife also thanked supporters.

“The outpouring of love and support from his fans, friends and family means so much more to us than anyone can know. Thank you for that, and for understanding how difficult this is for us,” she said, adding that there is an “emptiness in my heart that will never be filled.”