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Autopsy: Sedatives, anxiety drug in Cornell’s system

Detroit News staff and wire reports

Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell had sedatives, anti-anxiety medication and other drugs in his system on the night he died by hanging himself in his Detroit hotel room — but a medical examiner concluded that his death was suicide, according to reports released Friday.

Autopsy reports show Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell had sedatives and an anxiety drug in his system on the night he died by hanging himself in his Detroit hotel room.

“It is my opinion that death was caused by hanging,” wrote Wayne County Assistant Medical Examiner Theodore Brown in an autopsy report. “There were no other injuries or any diseases present that contributed to death. Postmortem toxicology detected butalbital, lorazepam, pseudoephedrine and its metabolite norpseudoephedrine, caffeine, and naloxone in the decedent’s blood. These drugs did not contribute to the cause of death.

“Based on the circumstances surrounding this death and the autopsy findings, the manner of death is suicide.”

The toxicology and autopsy reports were released Friday two weeks after the 52-year-old was found dead in a hotel room at the MGM Grand Detroit hotel after performing a sold-out concert at the Fox Theatre.

Musician Chris Cornell and wife Vicky Karayiannis arrive at the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 15, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California.

Brown wrote that a security guard found Cornell with a resistance band around his neck, and the other end was attached to a metal clip device over the top of the bathroom door.

The toxicology report says there were sedatives in Cornell’s body along with lorazepam, a drug for anxiety.

Cornell’s widow, Vicky Cornell, who has contended that his death was accidental, has said the toxicology report might shed light on why he killed himself.

After the reports emerged, Cornell’s wife said in a Friday statement that Cornell “was not himself” before he died.

“Many of us who know Chris well, noticed that he wasn’t himself during his final hours and that something was very off,” she said.

“We have learned from this report that several substances were found in his system. After so many years of sobriety, this moment of terrible judgment seems to have completely impaired and altered his state of mind. Something clearly went terribly wrong and my children and I are heartbroken and are devastated that this moment can never be taken back. We very much appreciate all of the love we have received during this extremely difficult time and are dedicated to helping others in preventing this type of tragedy.”