Billy Sheehan says that he is willing to "bet ten thousand dollars" that Chester Bennington was taking psychiatric medication just prior to committing suicide in July. The legendary bassist is an avowed member of the Church Of Scientology, which decries the practice of psychiatric medicine and whose members believe that all anti-depressants and other psychiatric medications are dangerous and addictive.
Sheehan's comments came during an interview with the "Metal Global" show, which airs on the Portuguese national radio and TV public broadcaster RTP.
Speaking about the recent suicides of Bennington and Chris Cornell, the MR. BIG and THE WINERY DOGS bassist said: "I think everybody… [whatever] your success and how famous you are, everybody's still got the same problems, no matter what. Money doesn't cure it, fame doesn't cure it — nothing really fixes it other than you fixing yourself; that's the only thing that ever fixes it. Somebody else can't fix it, you can't take a pill and fix it. You've gotta fix yourself. You create your own life in your own mind and you've gotta figure out a way to fix things on yourself so that you can continue on and enjoy your life. 'Cause I know very rich and famous people who are miserable — they hate everything and life is a constant complaint; nothing is right and they're just angry. And then I know people that have almost nothing and they live in a tiny little house in a city far away and they have a fabulous time, a wonderful time.
"It's sad to see people that are famous commit suicide," he continued. "Of course, it's the worst thing you can ever do. Suicide… I've experienced it many, many times — I've had many, many people close to me commit suicide. It's a terrible, terrible situation. You only hurt the people who care for you, and the people you hurt the most are the ones that care for you the most. And it's a terrible, terrible, horrible thing to do. And you're also torn between hating the person for doing this to you and how sad you are for them and for losing them. It's the worst thing for all people — for the person who has committed suicide and for everybody around them. It's just a terrible, terrible thing."
According to Sheehan, most people can overcome mental-health problems without pharmaceutical intervention. "People have to be able to step out of themselves for a minute, look at themselves and say, 'Jeez, I've gotta change something, because things aren't working out,'" he said. "It's a tough challenge, it's a challenge all of us had in all of our lives — every person: you, me, everybody in the world. There's this challenge to be a better person, to live the type of life that you can enjoy it. And it's a tough situation."
Billy added that he was tempted to bring up his controversial perspective on psychiatric medication in the immediate aftermath of Bennington's death. "When the gentleman who just passed away recently [took his own life], I almost posted, 'I'll bet ten thousand dollars right now he was on psychiatric medication. Right now. Anybody wanna take that bet?'" he admitted. "I didn't post it, because I thought it would be cruel and inappropriate. But I bet he was.
"Psychiatric medication is the cause of most suicides — something like ninety-something percent, psychiatric medication is a precursor to suicide," he continued. "It says on the box now — there's a little warning on the box. 'Warning: ideation of murder or suicide may result.' There it is. Plain as every school shooter. Every person that went to a school and shot up the school, every single one was on psychiatric medication — every one. Chris Cornell was on psychiatric medication. Keith Emerson was on psychiatric medication. That stuff is deadly, and whatever you can do to avoid it, I urge people to do so. There's gotta be a way, a more natural way, you've gotta get your nutrition good — there are all kinds of ways. And in some cases, you can't avoid it, and if you really need it, because you really need to settle down, fair, cool, great, that's good. But be aware, and make the people around you aware the possibilities are death or suicide."
Fellow well-known Scientologist Tom Cruise memorably publicized some of those same views in a 2005 interview with "Access Hollywood" when he suggested Brooke Shields should have taken vitamins rather than anti-depressants for her postpartum depression.
"These drugs are dangerous. I have actually helped people come off," he said. "When you talk about postpartum... what you do is you use vitamins."
Bennington was found dead in his home in Palos Verdes by one of his employees on July 20. A Los Angeles County coroner confirmed that the cause of death was "suicide by hanging."
A half-full bottle of alcohol was found in the room, but it was reportedly not near the body.
Bennington had been candid about mental-health battles in numerous interviews over the years, saying he grappled with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and substance abuse.