Did Medication Contribute to Chris Cornell’s Suicide?

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on October 2, 2017

People around the world are still mourning the death of Chris Cornell last spring. He was a high-profile musician and his suicide was sudden. Now, his family is claiming that medication he was taking at the time may have contributed to his death. Based on past cases that bear some striking resemblances, they may just have a medical malpractice case.

What Happened?

Before his death, the Soundgarden singer was taking Ativan, an anti-anxiety medication. His wife, Vicky Cornell, said in a statement that her husband was slurring his words during the last conversation they had, and that he didn’t seem like himself. Chris admitted that he may have taken an extra Ativan or two. The tragedy that followed became world news; but his wife refuses to believe that he was thinking clearly when he took his own life.

She, along with her attorney, Kirk Pasich, believe that the Ativan drove Chris to those suicidal thoughts, and that the slurred speech was an indication of that. These are two side effects commonly attributed to Ativan. Vicky Cornell and Pasich are arguing that the manufacturer of the drug, Wyeth Ltd., and the doctor that prescribed it are both responsible for Chris’ suicide.

And they might be.

A Case of Liability

Under product liability law, manufacturers have a responsibility to tell consumers about any harm that could ensue while using their product; this extends to prescription medication as well. Healthcare professionals, on the other hand, have a duty of care to look after their patients. This would include not prescribing drugs that could interfere with patients’ physical or mental well-being.

What is unclear is whether or not Cornell will win her case. Given that Chris admitted to taking “an extra Ativan or two,” he may not have been using the drug properly—and in that case, the manufacturers and healthcare professionals would not be responsible.

But previous cases show that Cornell may be eligible for compensation. In 2010, a woman named Wendy Dolin was awarded $3 million after her husband threw himself in front of a train while taking paroxetine. And in 2008, a man named Robert Granicz sued a doctor for medical malpractice after his wife, who was taking an antidepressant, hanged herself.

The American Psychological Association has said in recent years that doctors in this country are over-prescribing antidepressants and other psychotropic drugs: they would like to see the amount of prescriptions drop by at least half.

If you are currently taking medication that is causing side effects you weren’t warned about, or if you’ve tragically lost a loved one like Chris Cornell’s wife, contact Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., at (888) 228-3860. Taking major manufacturers and healthcare professionals to court is always complicated and requires an intricate knowledge of the law. We are experienced medical malpractice attorneys who will fight hard for you while you recover after a difficult time.

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