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Chris Cornell, Lead Singer of Soundgarden and Audioslave, Dead at 52 from Suicide

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Chris Cornell, who first gained fame as the lead singer of Soundgarden and later the band Audioslave, was found dead of suicide by hanging at MGM Grand Detroit following the band’s performance in Detroit, PEOPLE confirms.

“Chris Cornell passed away late Wednesday night in Detroit, Michigan,” Cornell’s rep said in a statement. “His wife Vicky and family were shocked to learn of his sudden and unexpected passing, and they will be working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause. They would like to thank his fans for their continuous love and loyalty and ask that their privacy be respected at this time.”

The Wayne County, Michigan medical examiner completed an autopsy Thursday afternoon and confirmed that Cornell died of suicide by hanging.

Earlier, cops told PEOPLE the musician’s death was being investigated as such.

“A friend of the family found him deceased and medics confirmed that, and yes, he was dead on scene,” Officer Jennifer Moreno of the Detroit Police told PEOPLE. “It is being investigated as a possible suicide. The medical examiner’s office will perform the autopsy and they will make the determination of cause of death.”

AP Photo/Jeff Christensen

Detroit police spokesman Michael Woody told the Associated Press Thursday morning that he could not release details about why police were investigating the death as a possible suicide, but he noted there were “basic things observed at the scene.”

Woody told Billboard that officers received a 911 call at midnight Thursday morning from an unnamed person at the hotel-casino requesting assistance.

“When the units arrived they were met by a gentleman who indicated that Chris Cornell had been found in his room,” Woody said to Billboard. “When officers went to the room they found Chris Cornell laying in his bathroom, unresponsive and he had passed away. We are investigating it as a possible suicide, but we need to wait on the medical examiner to determine the cause and manner of death.”

RELATED: Chris Cornell’s Life in Photos

Detroit’s WXYZ reported that police said Cornell’s wife called a family friend and asked him to check on the singer’s well-being and when the friend forced opened the hotel room door, he found Cornell on the bathroom floor.

“Chris seemed in really great spirits and everyone is in complete shock,” a friend of the rocker and wife Vicky who saw them recently told PEOPLE.

Soundgarden was at the forefront of the ’90s grunge music scene that rose out of Seattle. Their hits included “Spoonman,” ”Fell on Black Days,” ”Black Hole Sun,” “My Wave” and “The Day I Tried to Live.”

The band was nominated for multiple Grammy Awards and won two in 1995.

After Soundgarden broke up in 1997, he performed solo for a few years before joining Audioslave, a supergroup that included former Rage Against the Machine members Tom Morello, Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford.

Soundgarden reunited in 2012 and released the band’s sixth studio album, “King Animal.”

Cornell leaves wife Vicky and their two children, daughter Toni, 12, and son Christopher, 11, as well as daughter Lillian, 16, from his previous marriage to Susan Silver.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

  • Reporting by JEFF NELSON and KATHERINE RICHTER