CHRIS CORNELL’s passing is a shocking, heartbreaking loss to the arts and the world. His gift of lyrical poetry and insane earth to stratospheric voice that can malign your spine is unlike any other. After playing a successful show in Detroit on May 16th, the artist was found lifeless on the floor. His death was ruled suicide by hanging.
Since this announcement, social media has been full of messages reminding us to look for signs of mental illness, addiction, and disorders in our loved ones. Though the dialogue is essential, the prompt may be displaced.
Suicide is usually an end result for depression, yes. But, the taking of one’s own life can also be prompted by other means:
- Accidental (Michael Hutchens of INXS)
- Thrill-seeking (Wendy O. Williams)
- Forced – such as at gunpoint or other threats, such as blackmail.
- Foul play
- Mercy from pain or permanent disfigurement
- Murder made to look like suicide
According to the reports shared with the public and Cornell’s online behavior in his final days, this death leaves more questions than answers. There was no note left behind, he made future plans, he was found on the floor with no mention of a broken ligature, and though he had struggled with alcoholism for a time, he was active in his work and demonstrated good health.
We may never know all the facts. However, when it comes to the para-relationships we develop with public figures, fictional characters, and artists, we naturally take these types of events personally. We learn about ourselves through the lives of others.
With this, it is important that we see the whole picture before we paint ourselves, lest our self-portraits be denied its true colors.
In Cornell’s case, to jump to conclusions as to the motive, could not only be painting his character in the wrong light, it can also potentially affect an outcome of justice if, in fact, he did not end his life on his own terms.
So, while we celebrate Cornell’s contributions to Grunge/Metal history and his beautiful work with Soundgarden, Audioslave, Temple of the Dog, and his solo projects, for the sake of his family and ourselves, let us continue this interpersonal dialogue without assumptions.
“And we all know that when you make an assumption, you make an ass out of you…and umption.” – Samuel J. Jackson, The Long Kiss Goodnight