Toni Cornell knows how it feels to lose someone to addiction. And she wants to make sure its never a reality for others.
On Friday morning, Cornell — the daughter of legendary Soundgarden leader Chris Cornell — and her brother Christopher launched “Stop the Stigma: Tackling the Stigma of Addiction through Education,” a national education initiative in partnership with the Addiction Policy Forum and the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation. Her mission: Make addiction a part of education for young people.
The 16-year-old activist will be hosting guests on her forum at stopstigma.org, with her first being Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institute of Health, Dr. Nora Volkow. Listen here.
In addition to her announcement, Cornell shared a letter explaining the pain she felt losing her father in 2017, and touches on some of the steps she plans to take to push addiction education to help society “catch up in order to save lives and understand this is a disease and not some moral flaw.”
“My dad was a realist and he believed in tomorrow,” Cornell wrote. “And even though his music was dark at times it was always full of hope. He taught us that a single moment in time does not define who you are and what you feel, nor does it take away your strength. We all have hard moments, he explained, ‘No one is happy all the time,’ and that we need to understand how anxiety affects everyone at some point in some way.”
Cornell later said that her family is working to change laws and policies to raise awareness about addiction.
“My dad’s death was completely preventable,” Cornell writes. “We need to stop the stigma that does not allow us to see that this is a disease and a mental health disorder, not a moral flaw. The former perspective saves lives, the latter ends them… I miss my dad every second of every day and I know he would not want his death to be in vain. I hope others can learn from our pain and experience and I hope that we can stop the same thing from happening to every other family affected by this disease.”
Read the full letter here.