'American Idol' Alum Nikki McKibbin's Cause of Death Revealed

American Idol contestant Nikki McKibbin passed away in the early hours of Sunday morning after suffering a brain aneurysm. McKibbin was one of the stand-out stars of American Idol Season 1, and sources close to her family told TMZ that her death came unexpectedly. She was just 42 years old.

McKibbin reportedly suffered a brain aneurysm and was hospitalized overnight. Insiders said she passed away at around 3 a.m. on Sunday and was pronounced dead at the hospital. Her family was by her side at the time of her death. McKibbin was an organ donor, and because she was in the hospital, her generosity may help others. Still, her family and her fans are in mourning on Sunday.

A brain aneurysm is a medical term for a bulging blood vessel in the brain, which can devastate the body without warning when it leaks, ruptures or bursts. If it causes bleeding in the brain, it can lead to a hemorrhagic stroke, which becomes life-threatening immediately and without warning.

Typically, brain aneurysms are found during tests for other conditions, according to the Mayo Clinic. Sometimes treatment is necessary to prevent a rupture, but other times the anomaly can be ignored. Symptoms of a ruptured brain aneurysm include sudden headaches, nausea and vomiting, a stiff neck, blurred or doubled vision, sensitivity to light, seizure, confusion and loss of consciousness. In these cases, immediate medical attention is needed.

McKibbin was a contestant on the first season of American Idol back in 2002, and at the time, she was one of the fan-favorite voices of the new pop culture phenomenon. She performed covers of songs by Melissa Etheridge, Janis Joplin, Alanis Morissette and Stevie Nicks, establishing herself in the same genre and tone.

McKibbin finished third place in the competition, and although she did not win, she was signed to a record deal with RCA. She would work with different bands and labels, releasing one full-length album in 2007 — Unleashed.

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At the same time, McKibbin continued to appear on reality TV shows, including Fear Factor, Battle of the Network Reality Stars and Kill Reality. In 2008, she even appeared on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, revealing that she was struggling with alcoholism and cocaine addiction. Throughout the show and another stint on Sober House, she maintained her sobriety for years.

McKibbin is survived by her husband and her son, Tristan. American Idol fans everywhere are mourning the singer.