Avicii‘s dad, Klas Bergling, is opening up about the DJ’s death, saying that he doesn’t think his son planned to kill himself, but that many factors — including a demanding schedule — “brought him out of his control.”
“Our theory is not that he planned this suicide — more that it was like a traffic accident,” Bergling told CNN in an interview published Wednesday. “Many things happened and came into the same station, so to say, and brought him out of his control.”
Bergling said that he and his son — who was found dead in Muscat, Oman, last April at age 28 — would often have long conversations about his mental health and that he had seemed “happy” before his death.
“When he was in a bad situation he always used to call me,” Bergling said. “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.”
“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,” he continued.
Bergling went on to say that he believes his son’s demanding music career was a strain that could have contributed to his death.
“As a DJ or an artist you have to do a lot of things you don’t want to do, in the end that takes a part of you,” he said. “[It] takes a lot out of these people — the traveling, waiting at airports, late nights.”
“He started feeling that he didn’t feel good when he went up there,” he added of his son’s “extreme” schedule.
Since Avicii’s death last April, Bergling and the family have set up the Tim Bergling Foundation in his memory, which is named after the popular DJ’s given name. The foundation’s goal is to support those with mental illness and is expected to later expand to include initiatives for climate change, endangered species protection and nature conservation.
Proceeds from Avicii’s last album, TIM, which released posthumously last month, will go towards the foundation.
The family released a statement after the hitmaker’s death that described him as “a seeker, a fragile artistic soul searching for answers to existential questions,” and saying that he was “an over-achieving perfectionist who traveled and worked hard at a pace that led to extreme stress.”
“When he stopped touring, he wanted to find a balance in life to be happy and be able to do what he loved most — music. He really struggled with thoughts about Meaning, Life, Happiness. He could not go on any longer. He wanted to find peace,” the statement, which was translated from Swedish, said.
“Tim was not made for the business machine he found himself in; he was a sensitive guy who loved his fans but shunned the spotlight,” it continued. “Tim, you will forever be loved and sadly missed. The person you were and your music will keep your memory alive. We love you, Your family.”
The “Wake Me Up” artist wasn’t comfortable with the celebrity lifestyle, multiple people close to him previously told PEOPLE.
“He was totally thrown into this. All he wanted was to make beautiful music,” DJ Laidback Luke, who mentored Avicii as a teenager, said. “2015 was the last time I saw him face to face, and I remember there wasn’t much Tim left. Tim looked to me kind of like a zombie. He had aged significantly. When I saw him perform, it was as if he wasn’t in touch with life anymore.”
“He was extremely talented. He was always very honest about how he hated being a celebrity,” a friend of the musician said. “It was very difficult for him emotionally. He was never comfortable being in a social spotlight.”
Avicii announced his retirement from touring in 2016, saying in a letter to his fans, “I know I am blessed to be able to travel all around the world and perform, but I have too little left for the life of a real person behind the artist.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
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