Avicii Dead at 28

Tim Bergling (better known as Avicii) was found dead Friday. He was 28 years old. The official cause of death has not been released, but authorities have said that there is no criminal activity suspected.

Until tonight I never knew a thing about the man. I only ever loved his music. Wake Me Up and Hey Brother cross musical genres and carry profound messages of beauty and the love of living.

He lived with acute pancreatitis, which at his age is often a product of abusing oneself with alcohol and/or other drugs, often with co-occurring severe anxiety. Past interviews clearly show Tim had a problematic history with alcohol.

Sometimes I remind folks that it’s the drug that causes the most damage.

It’s not that I care to speculate as to his cause of death. It’s that in scanning the Youtube pages and Twitter postings, his fans aren’t just mourning, they’re holding their breaths in hopes that it wasn’t suicide.

Am I the only one who awaits coroner results like they’re forgone conclusions? Are we in an age in which we hear of a celebrity dying and immediately think, “overdose, suicide, or both?”

I’m still trying to get past the deaths of Chester Bennington and Chris Cornel. Their music helped me make sense of countless aspects of my life, including my relationship with my father.

It’s not that I mourn musicians more. It’s that their music made the world seem like a better place to be.

I’m still trying to get past the deaths of people who never got to be famous. They died in similar ways, from similar things. I knew them well and I watched what addiction and mental illness took away from them.

The truest words I know: “There but for the Grace of God go I.”

I hate it when people die before they truly live. I hate the powerlessness of I still wanna help you get better but you’re dead. I hate writing, “sending prayers for the family.” I hate praying for your soul and I hate diseases that no one can (or ever will) cure.

We can do a lot to prevent them and we can help folks recover from them. Addiction and mental illness are as old as time itself and somehow, we’re still not all on the same page as to whether we should support the afflicted. Far from it.

The only thing that makes sense to me are the words of Mother Jones, “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.”

Don’t wait until you lose someone you love. Don’t even wait for one of your personal heroes to die. Come down to the ground zero places of addiction recovery like the Bangor Area Recovery Network (BARN) and offer what you can to help our brothers and sisters live. .

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.