Daughter of Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell breaks down barriers around mental health

SEATTLE — Lily Cornell Silver may have a famous last name, but she is also making a name for herself.

The 20-year-old college student is breaking down barriers surrounding mental health. Her interview series is on IGTV and is also a podcast. It has reached many far beyond her expectations.

“I wanted to create some accessible place that people could go and listen to other people talking about mental health,” Lily recently told me.

I met her this month at her mom’s West Seattle office, the same place she records her interview series. Lily is open, honest and vulnerable – traits she learned from a very young age, but the pandemic found Lily struggling with her mental health and she quickly realized she wasn’t alone.

“People are so thirsty,” she told me. “They want to have conversations about mental health and about vulnerability. About how they are actually doing!”

So I asked her, “How ARE you doing?!”

Lily answered, “I am good and I am tired!” Then she laughed her infectious laugh.

Lily’s father, Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell died 4 years ago this month. One year ago, marking the 3rd anniversary of his death, Lily announced her mental health interview series titled Mind Wide Open. She told me about a line in a song of her father’s, “sleep is the eyes closed to light. Death is the mind wide open.”

Cornell struggled with anxiety and depression; it was an open discussion as Lily was growing up. She, too, has struggled with anxiety and suicidal ideation but told me she knew there had to be other ways to have your mind wide open. For her, it’s talking about what she’s experiencing and helping others find resources.

She interviews friends, mental health experts, celebrities and musicians who also struggle.

Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder is a source of comfort in Lily’s life. He opened up on her series last August, sharing insights into his struggles. Vedder also laughed with Lily a lot during that interview, telling stories of him and her dad getting lost on the Olympic Peninsula or Cornell taking him on some other grand adventure.

Lily told me, “being able to have those conversations through Mind Wide Open has been really beautiful and really healing in a lot of ways.”

Lily credits therapy from a young age – and her parents – for not having shame about her anxiety – it’s something she and her dad shared, “we both had parallel experiences at like, 15 years old, thinking we were having a heart attack when it was just anxiety making our heart beat faster.”

Lily also credits her music producer mom, Susan Silver, for this interview series and believes a “shift” is happening in society with destigmatizing mental health.

She is talking, using her platform to reach as many people as she can, one interview at a time.

Follow Lily’s interview series on Instagram @lilycornellsilver.