Chris Cornell’s Brother Reveals Who Is ‘Demanding We Re-Live Our Painful Upbringing’


Chris Cornell’s brother Peter made a Facebook post yesterday about World Mental Health Day. He appeared to react to some of the subtle shade thrown at him on Instagram by Chris’ mother-in-law Toni Karayiannis over the last couple of months. There has been a deep divide between Peter and Toni Karayiannis/Vicky Cornell for a few months now.

World Mental Health Day, Oct. 10, a day we can strive to combat the stigma that mental health struggles are not real. They are real. In the U.S., approx 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness annually, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health. About 1 in 25 struggle with a serious mental illness.

Daunting stats. 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness annually. I come from a family of 6 kids. Obviously we didn’t escape the plight of mental illness.

I’ve battled depression for a long time. Although never diagnosed, my Father certainly seemed to suffer from it during my life. My Brother spoke of his struggles with depression (and addiction) many times over the years.

And there is that word again. Stigma. Somehow it’s “sexy” to be an addict (of which I am also familiar), but let’s not talk about mental illness. Stigma.

Although I’ve experienced abuse, addiction and mental illness, I am not the poster child, WE are not the poster child. WE are just like you. WE are the same.

There is no shame or reason to hide.

There are those who re-victimize and bully us. Taunt and demand us to re-live and tell the details of our painful upbringing. To what end? It doesn’t erase the damage done. It doesn’t turn back the hands of time. We are survivors.


At the end of the day, forgiveness isn’t about “them”, it’s about what it brings to us. Peace.

Vicky Cornell tweeted on World Mental Health Day, “Today is #WorldMentalHealthDay help raise awareness- end the stigma around #behavioral health disorders and #addiction. You are not alone.”

  • nomad

    I really appreciate this man’s courage to speak about these struggles and spread awareness.

  • m l

    Chris’s blood family has certainly taken the high road compared to the wife and in-laws. I for one appreciate him bringing awareness to end the stigma,. Also, growing up in a home with multiple kids, you always tend to feel mistreated……Heck, I thought my mom favored my sister and did not like me because she gave her the blue cup when I wanted the blue cup. Chris shared what he wanted about his upbringing. If he wanted to share more, he would have……it is not his wife or mother i law’s place to tell a story he would like to keep private. It is not their place to taunt his surviving family members about it either. Every family has some kind of issue and are not perfect. Many prayers, love, and good vibes to Chris’s Seattle family

    • makingconnections

      I’m always uncomfortable when friends and family of people who have died take it upon themselves to speak on behalf of the person who is gone. It actually seems immoral to do such a thing. I read recently about a deceased writer than had kept their sexual orientation private their whole lives and then others began making it public. It’s nothing to be ashamed of for certain, being gay, but if a person wants privacy, they deserve that. Death shouldn’t mean it’s a free-for-all for others to expose details of your life that you didn’t choose to talk about when you were alive.

  • Olga Stewart

    I know that I’m going to jumped on for saying this (And honestly, I don’t care) but I really do think that both Vicky and her mother could learn a lot from seeing how both Chris’s family and ex-wife have dealt with the aftermath of his passing.

    Also, I’m very proud of Peter for not only standing up to them (Vicky and her mother) but also for him bringing awareness to mental health issues.

    • Donna Blue

      I, and very many others, agree with you wholeheartedly. It seems like Peter is getting a good idea of the manipulative and insensitive women Chris was living with for the last 14 or so years of his life. Sad

  • makingconnections

    I think an important point that Peter Cornell makes is that survivors of any sort of abuse, mental or physical, are under no obligation to “tell their story” as has been insinuated by Chris Cornell’s mother-in-law. Opening up the “can of worms” of childhood trauma is something to be done cautiously and with professionals. Writing letters to Toni Karayiannis, as she has requested people do, is dangerous and careless. Your information could become public and she cannot help you. There is help available if you need it (ask your family doctor) but never ever write your story down and give it to a stranger.

    • Shawn Thompson

      Whether the police should be involved. When police get involved in mental health situations people die! They have no training or very little of any. The concept of police protecting us is not only incorrect any longer but laughable. As the Last Vegas shooting shows us the police will wait 70 minutes to stop a shooter killing dozens of people and wounding hundreds. They are only here to protect us if they are assured that there is no risk to them.
      Please call anybody but the police in a mental health crisis. I’ve watched as so many that have my and millions of others afflictions be killed because the police cannot or will not stop shooting people who are confused and typically are going to hurt themselves before anyone else. They only make things worse with this madness of complete and utter control over anyone and everything.
      Please don’t call the police there are many different resources to use. Nothing is worth dying for because you are already having the worst day of your life. It could also be your last.

      • makingconnections

        I hear you and realize that I didn’t explain myself well; also I’m Canadian and our problems with police shooting people is not as bad, but it does happen. I’m sorry for the way things are there at this time…we hear about it and are very concerned. Our policemen are being encouraged to use tasers whenever possible, but still the guns do come out.

        I once heard a Catholic priest tell a group of parents to never inform the church if their child was abused but to go straight to the police. That was what I was trying to say. I probably should have said “the authorities”, or some such thing in order to press charges if that is felt to be just. We have had quite a number of women charging fathers and stepfathers for abuse suffered many years ago in the past few years in our area. The men are now in jail…3 that I can think of…not men you would ever have suspected of being abusers.

        My message was an attempt to tell people to not write their story down and send it off to Toni Karayiannis, who is too unhinged to be helpful to anyone. This is where re-victimizing the victim comes in. A therapist recommended through a family doctor would be a better choice for anyone feeling that they could benefit by looking at past abuse. I’m sorry for sounded cavalier over getting the police involved…I should have said the justice system or used some other words. I know exactly what you mean about police seeming to be ignorant of the fact that mentally ill people need special care and understanding. Let’s hope they receive the training they so desperately need and the vetting of potential police officers is improved. Take Care.

  • Kay B

    Ironic Vicky is asking for awareness of mental health when she is part of the stigma.

  • Megyn White

    My father was an alcoholic sociopath. I grew up in a severely abusive home. If I felt I was being forced to speak about my childhood, especially by someone I don’t trust or whose intentions were to possibly manipulate my words or use it against me, I’d have an extremely difficult time with that.

    To Toni K: please don’t fuck with people’s heads who have been abused. It takes a lifetime to come to any semblance of peace with it, especially when it’s your parent(s), the very person who is supposed to protect you. You are skating on thin ice taunting and bullying an adult child of abuse- you could end up causing quite a bit of harm in doing so. But maybe that’s your intent?

    To Peter C: any fan of Chris’ knows you are a good man, an honest man. We know you are biting your tongue and rising above whatever these women are up to. We ALL see it. We are on your side. Just know, try to remember you have SO MUCH support out here. We respect your silence, and when you do speak up, we know it’s because something desperately needs to be said. Unlike the people you are responding to, your words are well thought out and carefully chosen, they’re calm, diplomatic, tactful, respectful when your respect hasn’t even been earned by these people. We know you do this out of LOVE- for your brother and his children, your nieces and nephew.


    Vicky doesn’t appear to do or say anything without an ulterior motive. Here’s the motive behind “behavioral health disorder”:

    “The terms “behavioral health” and “mental health” are often used interchangeably. … Behavioral health includes not only ways of promoting well-being by preventing or intervening in mental illness such as depression or anxiety, but also has as an aim preventing or intervening in substance abuse or other addictions.”

    • Donna Blue

      Very well said. You have great insight and empathy. Regardless of any issues Chris had growing up he managed to rise above and bring beautiful music and positivity to the world. The K family are just trying to place blame where it doesn’t belong in an effort to “place blame” or point fingers everywhere except at themselves.

      • Megyn White

        Thank you. I consider myself lucky to have insight and empathy, considering my childhood. A lot of people, sadly, continue the cycle. Chris, like me and many others, abused himself rather than others or his children.

        I’d guess that Chris’ music was his therapy, and many prolific artists, no matter the medium, tend to create beauty from their pain, and only a few are able to be so humble and selfless to share it with others.

        You have to wonder *why* they feel the need to place any blame at all- so loudly, so obnoxiously- although I think we all know the answer to this.

    • Really spot on!! Nice post.

      • Megyn White

        Thanks 🙂

    • Olga Stewart

      Megyn, I couldn’t agree more.

      And I am so very sorry for what you had to deal with as a child.

  • Renée Lynn

    Peter Cornell has more grace, compassion and class in his little pinky than the Karayiannis’s, they are vile human beings that continue to destroy Chris’ Cornell’s legacy. I wish Peter and his family the best moving forward and heeling from the loss of his brother.

    • Donna Blue

      Agreed. Perfectly put. I have no applause emoji but if I did I’d post it here. Seems like Chris was living in a sad situation with his wife and MIL. Hoping his children grow up remembering what a wonderful man their father really was.

      • Olga Stewart

        I’m hoping that when both Toni and Christopher get old enough to both leave home and live on their own, that they might do so.

        I think it will help them to both get away from their Mom and grandmother and also it will give them a different perspective on life.

        • Donna Blue

          I hope so too Olga. It actually worries me to think about them being brought up by Vicky’s family and having no touch with Chris brother Peter, Lilly and so many of Chris’ TRUE dear friends. Im not sure they’ll get the same insight on the beautiful, talented legend and good person he was from without input from others (aside from Vicky, her Mom Tony and the few close friends V seems to have . Sigh

  • Linda Harris

    I have been wondering if anyone else finds the mother inlaw to be meddling, offensive and insulting to Chris’ friends and family. For instance, implying that no one else has a truly good marriage except Chris and Chester and their wives. Why bash other people’s relationships? I won’t say anything negative about Vicki but her mean and jealous mother should really STFU.

    • Donna Blue

      Mom in law isn’t doing all this bashing without Vicky’s knowledge and consent. It does seem like his M.I.L is insisting that up until Chris met Vicky his life was loveless and painful and I can’t see any truth in that at all.

      • Cristiann

        That mother in law is a real piece of work. She has just been so unbelievably awful ever since Chris’ death.

        I don’t believe his life before Vicky was “loveless”, but Chris certainly had a lot problems. Having depression/anxiety and dealing with it by drinking a lot, doing drugs, spending way too much time alone and isolating himself, etcs … these were all things that Chris struggled with since he was a kid. However, I don’t think Vicky deserves much credit for the positive change we saw in him during the 00s. Maybe she helped Chris in the beginning, but he is the one who actually chose to make his life better. He is the one who chose to get sober and he deserves most of the credit for all the good things he accomplished. He is also the one who is responsible for any mistakes or bad choices he may have made. Chris was able to overcome so much in life. I truly believe this man would still be here today if he had chosen to stick around a little longer and had gotten the help he needed. It might have meant that he had to start over again, would’ve had to make some big changes in his life, but at least he would still be here.

        The K family really needs to educate themselves on depression and other mental health issues. For the sake of those kids I really hope they stop with this nonsense soon.

    • Olga Stewart

      And you notice she never talks about her own marriage.

      And I haven’t even seen photos of them together (and if they are, they are with other people).

  • Chris’s in-laws and wife are quite narcissist and disrespectful to his memory. Stop all this. You are hurting his real family. It’s disgusting and I’d not be as gracious as Chris’s brother. He’s a good man and to you sir as another poster said, we see right through the acts of the K’s. Not taking time to figure out how to spell their names. That’s how little importance they are to people who loved Chris and his music.

  • Cristiann

    One of the saddest things about Chris’ death (to me) is not just that he was hurting so much and dealing with it on his own, but also that the cause of his death has only divided both sides of his family even more. One side has accepted the truth and is trying to help others by bringing awareness to mental health … while the other side refuses to accept reality because they just can’t understand it. When they should all be reaching out for each other and trying to heal together, they are instead drifting further apart. I feel really bad for all 3 of the kids (they’re so young and innocent). And I feel bad for Peter because he’s just trying to help. He’s not doing anything wrong and the way that grandma is behaving is completely inexcusable. Vicky should not be allowing her mother to do this, especially not in a public way.

    • makingconnections

      I don’t think it would be comfortable for everyone to reach out to each other in Chris’s birth family and his Karayiannus family. They don’t seem to have had much contact with each other in the l4 or so years that he became part of his 2nd wife, Vicky’s family. It was his choice to leave his past behind; however, there’s every possibility that he paid a huge price for that. Maybe he got lost and couldn’t find his way home. It’s all very sad but we can’t expect that they’ll all be warm and fuzzy with each other. Too much divides them. The most they could hope for in my opinion is that everyone wish each other well from a distance.

      • Cristiann

        This is just my opinion, but I think the bonds in Chris’ biological family must not have been very strong to begin with if they could all drift apart like that and not see each other much for years. I never expected things to become warm and fuzzy between these two families, but there was no need to let things to get this ugly after a tragedy. At least Lily probably has a relationship with Chris’ mother and siblings. I would want his other kids to know their other grandma and uncles/aunts as well. It’s all just really sad to me how everything has turned out.

        • makingconnections

          I understand that it happens this way sometimes….some of us have strayed far away from our parents and others stay close. I’m one who becomes very stressed after a short time with my parents and I do feel sad about it. Sometimes I think I put the effort into being connected to them for the sake of my brother, who I love so much. It hurts him deeply that we aren’t all at peace with each other, so I sort of pretend as best as I can for his sake. All families are complicated, but dysfunctional families can be a hardship. I think I’ve come to feel as Peter does. I don’t wish to go over what happened any longer…no wish to pick scabs off wounds! I want to wish each of them well, focus on my own family and try to be respectful. The cousins aren’t close…they seem to just pick up on the tension and run off to have fun. Good for them! Were I to die today my children would not run to their grandparents. I couldn’t seem to teach them how to love the elders in the family. I have friends, thank God, that I know would watch out for my children.

        • makingconnections

          It is sad…there are so many families that have issues and baggage by the time the children have grown into adults. I think of it as being battle scarred by being in a dysfunctional family. People survive though and sometimes have amazing lives, despite difficult upbringings. Some people find it easier to forgive and let go of the memories–others can’t do it and go off on their own. It’s definitely sad when someone completely leaves the circle though with no opportunity to heal.

        • Megyn White

          I think a lot of musicians and actors, for whatever reasons and no matter if they were close or not with their families, are able to let go easier than the average person. You find so many of them, once they reach a certain level of celebrity, leave their family of origin behind. Even when in the beginning to middle stages of celebrity they stayed close to their roots. And I think the longer you go without being in communication, the harder it is to go back 🙁

          • Cristiann

            I agree that ‘the longer you go without communication, the harder it is to go back’. However, I think that can happen to people whither they’re famous or not. Celebrities can manage to stay close to their roots when the bonds in their biological families and friendships are healthy even before they get famous. When those bonds were not strong to begin with, it’s not that surprising for people to drift apart as they get older.

            I think in Chris’ case (and I imagine in the cases of many other people) he cut off a lot of relationships from his former life in Seattle because 1) they weren’t healthy anymore, 2) they contributed to his problems and 3) he needed to start his life over somewhere new. I remember an interview Chris did once where he commented on this stuff and said that he had to make those big changes for his own survival. Obviously, he associated much of his problems back then with his roots, family history and marriage at the time. Maybe lots of people were hurt by those decisions that he made, but I think it wasn’t easy for Chris to make those decisions either. Starting over is painful and hard for anyone, but it’s often necessary in order for some people to keep on living.

            I do wish Chris mended things with his mother, but there were probably feelings of neglect that kept it from happening. And Chris never really had much of a relationship with his father (who was a real piece of work), so things couldn’t be mended there either unless his father reached out to him first and apologized. I don’t know … it’s all just sad no matter how you look at it.

  • Michael Pal

    These K WOMEN are really a Piece of Work!!! We need Justice for Chris!!! His fans will not let this One Go!!!! How did Chris ever get involved with this Ugly Vile family??? Poor guy didn’t have a Prayer with these Physcos!!!!!

  • Olga Stewart
  • DME

    His problem was not about being suicidal or depressed or addicted. His problem was that he married her.