Tim Bergling, known professionally as Avicii, died last year on April 20. The 28-year-old’s sudden death in Muscat, Oman came as a shock to many. The cause of death was not immediately released, but many fans had at least an inkling of an idea. Avicii: True Stories, a documentary released in 2017, showcased his struggles with anxiety and depression behind the scenes. His lifestyle, mixed with his alcohol dependence and mental illnesses, created a dangerous concoction that would lead to the artist’s 2016 retirement from his DJ career.
Within a week of Bergling’s death, an open letter from Bergling’s parents, Klas Bergling and Anki Lidén, stated that Bergling “really struggled with thoughts about Meaning, Life, Happiness. He could not go on any longer. He wanted to find peace.” Without using the word “suicide,” the letter answered fans’ suspicions. In April 2019, father Klas Bergling told The New York Times that he doesn’t believe his son’s death was planned. Bergling’s death was like “an accident to the motor road” with “several cars.” Bergling’s seemingly improving mental state and the lack of a letter led the father to believe “nothing points in the direction that he was planning it.”
One year has passed since Bergling left this world, but he continues to shape the EDM community. In his final weeks, Bergling was working on his third studio album, Tim, released summer 2019. Through Tim, he gives insight into his world of anxiety, existential fear, and finding joy through the midst of it all. “SOS,” a track in collaboration with Aloe Blacc (remember “Wake Me Up” and “Hey Brother”?) was the first to be released from the album, dropping 10 days before the one-year anniversary of Bergling’s death.
Almost a year after the death of the EDM musician, Bergling’s parents established the Tim Bergling Foundation. It “advocate[s] for the recognition of suicide as a global health emergency and promote[s] removing the stigma attached to the discussion of mental health issues” and “support[s] science-based organizations that engage in research into the causes and prevention of suicide, particularly for young people.” The foundation also aspires to be involved in different issues that Bergling felt passionate about such as “climate change, preservation of endangered species, [and] global hunger.” Thus far, the foundation is in its early stages and does not accept donations, but until then, Klas Bergling asks fans to spread the same love and compassion that his son did.
The Friends Arena in Stockholm will host a tribute concert for Avicii on Dec. 5. Live performers — some of whom had worked with Bergling in the past such as Aloe Blacc and Joe Janiak — and well-known DJs are playing to pay tribute to an EDM pioneer and raise mental health awareness. Tickets went on sale Sept. 5, and already, the show is sold out.
It’s hard to say goodbye to an artist I’ve followed since 2012. Like most other fans, I started off with “Levels,” but I observed Bergling develop his sound. He experimented with various genres (who knew EDM could fuse with country prior to “Wake Me Up”?) and became more vulnerable with his audience. In his lifetime, he was passionate about causes such as AIDS care, world hunger, and the LGBTQ+ community. Through his music videos, he included themes of inclusivity and positivity. I’m sad that Tim is the last that the world will hear from Bergling, but just as he said when he retired from touring, he finished off his music career “with a bang.” Now, his legacy leaves behind a message of compassion, living life to the fullest, and continuing the dialogue of mental health.