Vicky Cornell said her late husband, rocker Chris Cornell, did not appear to be depressed or suicidal before dying by suicide after a concert in May 2017. The beloved Soundgarden frontman was 52.
“This was like a tsunami. This was… nothing. This was not on the radar. This wasn’t like ‘Oh, we have to deal with this’ somehow,” she said on Thursday’s episode of Gayle King’s SiriusXM show, Gayle King in the house. “Chris didn’t have suicidal thoughts and Chris wasn’t even depressed. Chris was recovering and he had been on benzos. But again, looking back… It came out of nowhere.”
Vicky previously said she had “missed the signs of addiction” that her husband was showing. He’d been open about the fact that he’d struggled with substance abuse for much of his life, but she said he’d been sober for years. Toxicology reports showed that prescription drugs were in his system when he died, but they were not contributing to his death. The family then claimed in a 2018 lawsuit that Dr. Robert Koblin prescribed the musician too many drugs. They said the drugs caused him to behave erratically before he died. In May 2021, the family reached a confidential settlement in the case.
Speaking to King, Vicky said she thinks it’s important for people to focus on the cause of why someone commits suicide so that instances of this can be prevented.
“With us, I know the cause, because I was on the phone with Chris, and he was in a sort of delirium that same night…” she said. “He called me after the show, and I could just tell he wasn’t right… He sounded like he was high, and he was confused. His speech was slurred. And there was just something that was extremely bad. .. and then just, I don’t know, 30 minutes later that was it.”
The late musician has a daughter, 22-year-old Lily, with ex-wife Susan Silver. He and Vicky, who married in 2004, are the parents of daughter Toni, who turns 18 on September 18, and son Christopher, 16.
She complimented her late husband’s parenting skills, saying he was “such a current father.” She also explained that the family has entered therapy to deal with their loss, which still feels very fresh, as if it happened six months or a year ago.
“I even have friends who can’t believe Chris’ clothes and everything is exactly as he left it, just in his closet,” she said. “And that’s another thing where they feel like there are things you need to do to move forward. And so I just want to say, to people who are grieving and that kind of thing, you know – loss – that there really aren’t any lines.”
For Vicky it helps to keep her husband’s memory alive.
“I think it’s very important to allow us to talk about our loved ones. Allow us to talk about them every day,” she said. “And for me and my kids, the most important thing was keeping Chris alive in our house. So he’s talked about every day. I love it when people talk to me about Chris.”
If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts, call 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.