The world was devastated in April 2018 when the electronic dance musician, Avicii, passed away in Muscat, Oman. The DJ, who had won countless awards over his career, had taken a break from touring in recent years; however, he was planning on releasing new music in the near future. His career inspired countless other musicians while his death raised awareness about the mental health needs of high-profile figures.
The musician known as Avicii, real name Tim Bergling, was found dead in a hotel room in Muscat, Oman, on April 20, 2018. Official reports of his death gave the cause of blood loss, which his family later publicly confirmed to have been suicide. After many years of struggling with addiction issues, mental health problems, and chronic pain, he died by suicide after cutting himself with a piece of glass. He was 28 years old.
On That Day
On April 20, 2018, Avicii was found dead in his hotel room in Muscat, Oman. Some reports say that his family alerted the police after worrying about their son’s mental well-being. Others say that a friend visiting Avicii in Oman contacted his father, expressing concern about him and saying that he was refusing to eat or sleep.
Not many details have been made public about the exact circumstances surrounding the DJ’s death. Many of the specifics were concealed, likely out of a respect for the privacy of the musician and his family.
What is known is that sometime in the last few hours before his body was discovered, he cut himself with a shard of glass. Some reports said that it was a broken wine bottle. This led to significant blood loss, and eventually, death.
His family confirmed his death by suicide on April 26, 2018. His body was transported back to his home country and prepared for burial in Stockholm, Sweden.
Before His Death
As early as 2016, Avicii was struggling with his mental health and decided to take a break from recording and touring. Touring was stressful and exhausting for him, and he was also suffering from a variety of physical health problems.
In 2014, the DJ was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis, a result of chronic alcohol use. A bevy of other health issues, including the removal of his gallbladder, led to an opioid addiction as he tried to find relief from the pain.
He got help from many resources over his final years. He went to therapy, went through rehab programs, and started doing meditation. His friends reported that, in his last few months, he often meditated for hours a day, seeking peace that he could not find.
In April 2018, he was at his home in Los Angeles before traveling to Oman to visit friends. Acquaintances who saw him before his departure said that he did not seem suicidal; they reported that he was happy, excited, and full of energy.
However, by the time he got to his holiday destination, his behavior was worrying his friends and family. A day or two before his death, he called his family from abroad. He made some comments that made them suspect he was considering suicide. In fact, they were so concerned—according to some reports—that his brother David immediately flew to Oman to make sure he was safe. Sadly, he would arrive too late.
A year before his death, the musician was the subject of a documentary, Avicii: True Stories. In the documentary, he discussed his struggles with addiction. After being diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis in 2012—the result of heavy alcohol consumption—he underwent surgery to have his appendix and gallbladder removed.
He was in serious pain after the combination of health problems, and it affected both his mental and physical health. In the documentary, he described how he was prescribed a huge number of opioids to combat the pain, including Vicodin and OxyContin. He said that there was a time when he was taking 20 pills a day, and he soon developed an addiction.
All these issues led to the DJ retiring from touring in 2016. But it wasn’t without a fight. His manager, Arash Pournouri, put pressure on the musician to continue touring. He was aware of Avicii’s mental health struggles but found them less concerning than his addiction. He made efforts to restrict the musician’s access to alcohol while on tour and staged two interventions for him over several years.
After his death, however, the DJ’s family said the pressures of management were strongly related to the deterioration of their son’s mental health. They said that the musician found it extremely difficult to deal with producers urging him to continue touring and recording; he was also sensitive to critical or hateful fan mail and was stressed by his time in the international spotlight.
In the documentary, he said that he thought he was going to die if he kept touring.
The investigation into Avicii’s death was minimal. Omani police said that there was little evidence of foul play; the musician was known to have been depressed and suicidal. There were no signs that the wounds had been anything but self-inflicted.
His body was transported back to Sweden to be prepared for burial in Stockholm.
Though the musician’s death was quickly reported by the international media, a cause of death was not immediately given. It wasn’t until six days later that his family confirmed that he had died by suicide. The official announcement, written in Swedish, cited his search for meaning and desire to find peace and relief from the external stresses of the world.
The response around the globe was enormous. Fans and peers alike expressed shock and grief at the news of his death. Many musicians, some of whom had collaborated with him in the past, publicly expressed their condolences to his family.
There were also countless musical tributes from the DJ’s friends and associates in the music industry. Among these was a live performance from the Mounted Royal Guards and the Dragoon Music Corps from the Swedish Army, which took place at the Swedish Royal Palace in April 2019.
At the 2018 Billboard Music Awards, a month after the musician’s death, he was honored by former collaborators The Chainsmokers and Halsey. The singers also used the opportunity to speak about the need for mental health and community support for those struggling with suicidal tendencies.
In June 2018, Avicii’s life was celebrated at a private funeral at Skogskyrkogården Cemetery in Stockholm. He was laid to rest at Hedvig Eleanora Church. The funeral was attended only by family and close, personal friends.
In November 2018, however, his family held a public memorial service and invited fans to pay their respects. Hundreds of mourners came to Hedvig Eleanora Church, where they heard orchestral performances of some of the musician’s most iconic songs, including Wake Me Up.
The DJ was an avid journaler, particularly in the last years before his death. Selected journal entries were published in the 2022 biography Tim — The Official Biography of Avicii. Other parts of the biography included interviews and personal stories from his family and friends.
But the journal entries have drawn particular interest. They highlight his struggles with feelings of overwhelm and ennui throughout his final years, as well as his experiences with alcohol and opioid addiction.
One entry, written in 2015 when he was staying at the Ibiza Calm rehab center, described his acute physical and mental pain and how he worried he would never find relief.
Reportedly, his final journal entry read: “The shedding of the soul is the last attachment, before it restarts!”
Avicii remains one of the most successful electronic dance musicians of all time. He has been widely cited as an inspiration for other pop and electronica musicians, including Charlie Puth, Zedd, Hailee Steinfeld, and Diplo.
After his death, two of his songs were named on Billboard’s list of 100 Songs That Defined The 2010s: Levels and Wake Me Up. The musician has been praised for his unique ability to cross between genres such as pop, country, and electronica. He is considered extremely influential in pioneering the sound of electronica throughout the 2010s, inspiring countless other artists.
In addition to his musical legacy, he also left his mark in other ways. His parents began a foundation in his name to provide help, support, and resources for those struggling with mental health issues and suicidal ideation. Many musicians have cited his influence as raising awareness of mental health needs in the music industry.
Ultimately, his family attributed the breakdown in his mental health to the conflict between his desire to create music with the pressures of being a public figure. While he loved his fans and the music, he struggled to cope with the stress of touring and the pressures from his record label. While his death at such a young age was a tragedy, the mark that Avicii left on the world was immeasurable.
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
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