Remembering Avicii: A Mental Health Tribute

Honoring the life of a music pioneer through mental health awareness

Posted Apr 20, 2019

About once every 40 seconds we lose a life by suicide. On April 20th, 2018 the world learned about the loss of electronic dance music artist and producer Tim Bergling, better known as Avicii. As many began to mourn his tragic passing, common consequential questions following a death by suicide began to arise.

Were there signs?

How was this possible?

…and of course…

Why?

Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Avicii’s family released a statement confirming his lifelong challenges with mental health including concerns such as extreme stress, the pressure to be perfect, and questioning the meaning of life. They affirmed that he sought methods to achieve peace. This was validated by the documentary Avicii: True Stories that documented four years of his rise to fame, stressors, and attempts to cope. Since, Avicii's family has established a foundation to foster mental health and promote suicide prevention. If you wish to honor the memory you may think to share one of his chart-topping songs as a tribute, but, aligned with his family, another way you can do so is by promoting mental health awareness. Be mindful of the stressors he experienced, the same that affect many others today, choose to stand against stigma, and know how to seek help.

Stress

Stress is the typical, expected response when faced with a challenge. Stress is a natural part of life, and with it comes the need to cope. One can foster resilience by recognizing stressors and utilizing tailored methods to moderate their stress. Over time, the inability to recognize stressors, the lack of coping skills or even feeling hopeless in the potential to reduce stressors can cause mental health concerns. In True Stories, Avicii’s attempts to reduce his stressors by minimizing events were seen, as well as the impact on his mental wellness. Monitoring stress is an ongoing, important method of maintaining mental health. When possible, it can be beneficial to proactively consider coping mechanisms. If you notice the amount of stress is inundating and negatively impacting your wellness, it is important to seek help.

Perfectionism

A common concept that perpetuates stress is perfectionism. According to Curran and Hill perfectionism may be affecting recent generations more than in the past. Growing recognition as a dangerous frame of mind, perfectionism is now noted as a risk factor for suicide. Perfectionism is isn’t all bad, and that actually makes it difficult to distinguish when it is problematic. When adaptive, perfectionism prompts individuals to be proactive, set goals, and work hard. But how high is too high for our standards and expectations? While an outsider may see Avicii’s chart toppers simply as amazing achievements, True Stories captured the pressure Avicii felt to meet the hopes of his fans, friends, and collaborators. Underlying perfectionism often drives individuals to set unrealistic expectations, overwork, and be self-critical. Perfectionism should be taken seriously as a warning sign. Make an active effort to differentiate between self-compassionate encouragement and self-critical bullying. Practice self-kindness and gratitude to honor what you have, what you have achieved, and your potential to continue to grow.

Existential suffering

Avicii’s family shared that he was a seeker, a “fragile artistic soul searching for answers to existential questions.” Existential suffering may be more common than we think, because individuals pondering thoughts pertaining to meaning, purpose, connection, individuality, and life overall may find themselves isolated in their reflection. Existential scholars such as Søren Kierkegaard, Viktor Frankl, and Irvin Yalom have all remarked on the intensity one experiences when willing to question the meaning of life. One can find themselves overwhelmed by existential concepts, and may turn to avoidance. To foster existential thought sans suffering, be mindful of your emotional experience, caution isolating from others, refrain from avoiding the magnitude of your thoughts, try to make abstract concepts tangible when possible, and seek support.

While Avicii may have faced other concerns that warrant mental health awareness, out of respect for his family and in order to honor his legacy, this article specifically addressed known and confirmed variables that affected his mental well-being. Suicide affects all people regardless of age, gender, socioeconomic status, nationality, etc. Recognizing the prevalence of mental health concerns, specifically suicide, helps us to see that the problem is widespread. Awareness of the need to improve may seem small, but it is the first, crucial step.   

To learn more about what you can do, read :

A Call for Change: How to Contribute to Suicide Prevention

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts please seek help.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or chat online.