The father of superstar DJ Avicii, who died by suicide last year, has urged policymakers to address mental health problems earlier in a person’s life, before it becomes too late.
In an interview with CNN, Klas Bergling said his son Tim – better known by his stage name – had struggled to keep up with an unrelenting lifestyle and battled stage fright, addiction and depression throughout his career.
He described the “long talks” the pair had about his mental health and punishing touring schedule before his death last year.
“Our theory is not that he planned this suicide – more that it was like a traffic accident,” Bergling told CNN’s Robyn Curnow at an event hosted by CNN affiliate Expressen TV. “Many things happened and came into the same station, so to say, and brought him out of his control.”
“When he was in a bad situation he always used to call me,” Bergling added, speaking at an event in Sweden. “We talked a lot (about) his thoughts about life, his thoughts about meditation, love … we had long talks, often one hour or so, over the ocean.”
Avicii was one of the most successful touring DJs in the industry, having found global fame on the back of hits including “Wake Me Up” and “Hey Brother.”
He was found dead in Muscat, Oman in April 2018, at the age of 28.
The star had been open about his struggles during his life, and took a break from touring in 2016.
Bergling said his son was “happy” in the lead up to his death, but added: “If you are very happy or extremely happy, it’s not so far to be unhappy … small things can make you sad or move your balance and I think this is what happened.”
“As a DJ or an artist you have to do a lot of things you don’t want to do, (and) in the end that takes a part of you,” his father said. “(It) takes a lot out of these people – the traveling, waiting at airports, late nights.”
And he called the DJ’s touring demands “extreme,” saying: “He started feeling that he didn’t feel good when he went up there.”
“SOS,” Avicii’s first song to be released posthumously, features lyrics about a lack of sleep, addiction and stress.
It forms part of an album released by the star’s family to raise money for mental health causes. Bergling has set up a foundation in honor of his son with the same intention.
He urged politicians in Sweden and across the world to tackle mental health issues early in life. “School should be the best place for the children, so let’s make it the best place for the children,” he said. “The problem is what are they doing in the society to handle problems like this?”
“The most important thing (is) trying to catch the problem earlier,” he said. “It’s really a political question that has to be solved, not talked about for 10 more years.”
To get help, call the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.