While the music world mourns the death of Avicii, two autopsies reveal nothing suspicious about the 28-year-old DJ's sudden death — leaving many lingering questions about how he died at such a young age.
The "Levels" hitmaker was found dead in a hotel room at the Muscat Hills Resort in Oman on Friday while on vacation. Officials ruled out foul play in his death, but no questions have been answered about his official cause of death as of yet.
While it's still unclear how the Grammy winner died, he was very open about health issues that plagued him throughout the years, in particular his battle with pancreatitis. Starting in January 2012 when he was 22 years old, Avicii, whose real name was Tim Bergling, was hospitalized in New York with acute pancreatitis tied to his heavy alcohol intake.
Later, in March 2014, he underwent surgery to remove his gallbladder and pancreas, the long, flat gland tucked behind the stomach in the upper abdomen.
But what exactly is pancreatitis? According to the Mayo Clinic, it's an inflammation of the gland that produces enzymes that help digestion and hormones that regulate the way your body processes sugar. It can be acute, which means the inflammation appears suddenly and lasts for days, or chronic, which means it occurs over a long period of time. Mild cases of chronic pancreatitis can fade away without treatment, while severe cases can invoke life-threatening complications.
Symptoms of pancreatitis include upper abdominal pain, fever, rapid pulse, nausea, vomiting and tenderness of the abdomen.
Dr. Rahul Pannala, the director of the pancreas clinic at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona told Billboard that any kind of damage to the pancreas causes spillage of the pancreas' enzymes into the fat that surrounds it, which causes the pancreas cells to become irritated and inflamed.
Pannala said that the most common cases are related to alcohol abuse and gallstones, and that most sufferers of acute pancreatitis can recover if they take care of the underlying factors. But repeated bouts can lead to chronic pancreatitis, which causes scar tissue to form and a loss of functioning. Someone with a poorly functioning pancreas can have digestion problems and diabetes.
Pannala said doctors "tend to remove the gall bladder to reduce the risk of it happening again. With young people, who are more likely to binge on alcohol, it can be very traumatic to the pancreas, which sets off pancreatitis, manifesting in severe abdominal pain, causing damage to the surrounding fat and adjacent structures."
As was reported when Avicii died, doctors removed his gallbladder in 2014, likely tied to excessive drinking that he says he turned to out of the anxiety of being in the spotlight.
In a 2013 interview with Time magazine, he admitted that for a time he was "drinking way too much [and] partying in general way too much." He said that his first bout of pancreatitis at 21 forced him to do a "180 and stop drinking."
That same year, he told GQ about his discomfort with sudden fame and the pressures of traveling the world. "There's free alcohol everywhere — it's sort of weird if you don't drink," he said, adding that he imbibed at first because he didn't expect his fame to last. But his fame lasted (and lasted), and he developed an addiction that turned into drinks at all hours of the day.
"I was so nervous," he told GQ. "I just got into a habit, because you rely on that encouragement and self-confidence you get from alcohol, and then you get dependent on it."
After his 2014 surgery, Avicii was forced to cancel all his scheduled performances, like a headlining gig at TomorrowWorld and two Las Vegas residencies.
Two years later, he announced his retirement from performing live, but continued to work and record new music.
Two years after that, he was found dead. In a recently released documentary following his meteoric rise to fame, he can be seen repeatedly warning his management that he is "going to die" if he did not stop performing.
"I have told them this: I won't be able to play anymore," he said in the documentary. "I have said, like, I'm going to die. I have said it so many times. And so I don't want to hear that I should entertain the thought of doing another gig."0comments
He also said that he was disappointed by people trying to "pressure me into doing more gigs."
"I have been very open with everyone I work with, and everyone who knows me. Everyone knows that I've had anxiety and that I have tried. I did not expect that people would try to pressure me into doing more gigs," he admitted. "They have seen how ill I have felt by doing it, but I had a lot of push-back when I wanted to stop doing gigs."