The music world mourned yet again when Swedish musician, DJ, remixer and record producer Avicii, also known as Tim Bergling, died suddenly at the age of 28. While drugs and foul play were not suspected or confirmed, rumors that he took his own life swirled throughout the news. The family seems to have solidified that assumption, saying in a public statement that the artist had a conflicted relationship with the music industry and his personal struggles.
They referred to him as a “seeker, a fragile artistic soul searching for answers to existential questions.” They went on to say he was an over-achiever who worked at a frenetic pace to the point of extreme stress and exhaustion. Struggling with the balance of meaning, life and happiness, they said, he could no longer bear the demands of life.
We hear a lot about teen depression and suicide, but there’s a certain subset of the population that doesn’t get as much press: depression in people in their 20s. Avicii certainly isn’t the first young musician – or first young person period – to become overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy and despair. In fact, it’s all too common. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, 26 percent of Americans over the age of 18, about one in four adults, suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder. And while major depression can develop at any age, the average age at onset is the mid-20s.
Sadly, the CDC reports that suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages 25 to 34, at 6,500 deaths in 2014, right after unintentional injury at 17,000 deaths. Third cause of death was homicide, with the rest of the list dominated by health problems such as cancer, heart disease and liver disease.
While those numbers are certainly sobering, the numbers are rising across the board for all age groups. In fact, the number of suicides in this country has been steadily rising since 1999 in everyone between the ages of 10 and 74.
Why these growing numbers? Some speculate it could have to do with the reduction in emphasis of health care providers to prescribe antidepressants due to concerns of increased suicide risk. Others say it has to do with the surging rate of opiate overdoses, which are classified as suicides if the medical examiner or coroner determines the overdoses were intentional. Experts says access to lethal means is one of the top risk factors for someone dying by suicide.
Statistics show that men commit suicide more often than women, at 20 deaths per 100,000 men, contrasted with six per 100,000 women. It is thought that men are less likely to reach out and get the help they need. Initiatives aimed at improving mental health care and an increase in screening for mental health problems via programs promoting social connectedness could work.
Psychologists from the University of California set out to determine why depression is so prevalent in our 20s. They believe that the brain is still developing in early adulthood, where we finally come to terms with what it means to be a success or a failure. The rejection, emotions and criticisms experienced during this time can impact self-worth and spur depressive feelings. In addition, this is the time in which many people come face to face with their reality – one that could be very different from the one they projected in their teen years. All that hope has placed
irrational expectations and feelings of shame knowing we haven’t really accomplished what we wanted to. Add fame to the mix and it can be a lethal combination.
There is hope. Depression can be treated. Medications are available. Therapy can provide a light at the end of the tunnel. And revolutionary treatments are being performed to help those with chronic depression.
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You’re never alone. Get the help you need with one of our qualified therapists, psychiatrists or psychologists. In fact, we offer Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), a unique, non-invasive treatment for severe depression. Contact us today at one of our many locations.