Avicii’s death has caused DJs to acknowledge their mental health struggles

djs mental health struggles

DJ’s are beginning to talk about their mental health struggles and it is about time they do!

Mental health awareness has been a much-discussed topic since the passing of the Swedish superstar – Avicii. The tragic death of the EDM pioneer is making everyone dig a little deeper into their touring lifestyles and the pressures of their jobs. It seems hard to digest that someone receiving large sums of money, and who has a job that looks like one big party may be going through extreme pressures.

What shook the DJ world, was the tragic death of Tim Bergling, aka EDM DJ Avicii. Tim’s cause of death was not confirmed directly by his family, but, they said that he could not go on any longer. They went on to say that 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.

Tim toured extensively until he quit completely in 2016 as he suffered both physical and mental problems as a result of his career. Five years of touring had already put Avicii in the hospital twice. A documentary was released last year namely Avicii: True Stories, which showcased how an individual went through anxiety and stress as his management kept pushing him to play more shows.

Well, the touring lifestyles, neglecting of basic human needs, disturbed sleep patterns and the dependence on alcohol and drugs are only some of the reasons how artists are being pushed to a breaking point.

Erick Morillo, Ben Pearce, Benga and B.Traits are some other successful DJ’s who have publically fought mental issues which were a result of a life on the road, and it is only in the past few years when they have felt completely comfortable speaking out.

Erick revealed that his life went into a downward spiral when his career dipped. This induced an addiction to Ketamine which almost cost him an arm. Dubstep pioneer Benga on returning from a two-year Sabbatical believed that his schizophrenia and bipolar disorder was brought on by years of heavy touring and drug taking.

Deadmau5 also revealed his own battle with depression issues late last year. Moreover, Carl Cox who is an ultimate role model for many, told Mixmag that, he is slowing down his touring schedule next year because he is afraid he will burn out.

DJs mental health
Carl Cox

Cox also quit drugs and smoking after a health scare 14 years ago. But despite being sober, the lack of sleep and changing time zones can lead to issues with one’s mental health.

Being a successful DJ is only a dream for many. But, let’s understand why so many artists are burning out. UK charity Help Musicians published a study in 2016 which found that 69% of its 2,211 participants had experienced depression, while 71% had panic attacks and/or high levels of anxiety. It was also found that people working in the field of music are more likely to face depression that the general public.

Well, apart from the relentless touring, there is also the growing social mediums which are now posing a risk to artist’s mental health’s.

DJ and producer Ben Pearce said, ‘Social media is dangerous because it is absolutely awful for you. It’s poisonous. And being in an industry that so linked to it, there is no surprise mental health is so damaged in the industry.’

djs mental health
Ben Pearce

Pearce made headlines in 2016 when he announced that he would be taking a break. He also went on to add that despite the negative effects that social media has, it can be forced for good. He realized this, as when he went on a break, his fans reached to 1.8 million people and 99.9% of the messages he received were supportive.

While social mediums can be intimidating, and also blunt, we think that if one is open with their problems the entire world unites to show support as until then, fans are unaware of the pressures their most loved artists are going through.

Vijaya Manicavasagar is the director of Psychological services at the Black Dog Institute which is essentially a non-profit established to treat mental illnesses. He says that while touring can put an artist’s health at a risk in addition to lack of sleep and an unhealthy lifestyle, one’s moods and emotions can also be masked due to partying hard. If one is feeling low or is feeling anxious, they may not even realize there is an underlying problem there, and they blame it on the fact that they have partied hard. Hence, he believes that it is not such a good idea to mask low mood or anxiety, rather one should seek professional help.

It never hurts to be aware of the rigors of the touring lifestyle. It could start with an inability to sleep, exhaustion and irritability, feelings of anxiety and dread or have fixations on things Vijaya says. We can only hope that all our loved artists are getting the rest they need after all the shows they are putting on to unite people across the globe.

Avicii’s passing shook us all, not only musicians in the music industry. It also reminded us of how precious life is, and that we should not lose our real selves. It is always an attitude that points or brings about a problem to the surface. We as listeners and fans should not criticize anyone, who is taking steps for self-care, not only form the music and touring industry.

UK charity Music Support says ‘that the music industry is coming to understand the need for a gold standard of touring so we can work together to make sure that burnout, collapse and tragically, death stops happening. In some instances, this will be unavoidable, but there is more that can be done’

So, make sure to give love to everyone who is around you, as you may be unaware of the pressure they might be going through and don’t be afraid to speak of your depression or anxiety.

Paridhi Bhatiya


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