The tech mogul revealed a dark chapter of his life at the 2023 DealBook Summit.
On Wednesday, Elon Musk opened about an “existential crisis” he had at the age of 12. The phenomenon made the now well-known billionaire and CEO of Tesla Motors contemplate taking his own life.
During the 2023 DealBook Summit on Wednesday, the 52-year-old business owner told Aaron Ross Sorkin of New York Times that he once thought of ending things during his adolescence.
“‘It is all pointless? Why not just commit suicide? Why exist?'” Musk said.
At the time, Musk read religious texts, specifically German philosophy books that made him “quite depressed.”
Everything changed when he picked up and read a copy of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Musk soon realized that finding a purpose in life is not just a black and white answer, but the questions we raise along the way.
“My motivation then was, well, my life is really finite … but if we can expand the scope and scale of consciousness then we are better able to figure out what questions to ask about the answer that is the universe and maybe we can find out what is the meaning of life,” Musk said.
The investor and businessman also told Sorkin, 46, that his mind “often feels like a very wild storm” due to the “fountain of ideas” that constantly come up.
Sorkin then asked if the “storm” Musk mentioned was a “happy storm.”
This made Musk pause for a moment before he replied, “No.”
“I think to some degree I was born this way, but it was amplified by a difficult childhood, frankly,” he explained.
A 2022 piece from New York Times also revealed that Musk was “bullied heavily” at the high school he attended in South Africa.
Musk reflected that even during a “happy moment” when he was a kid, he felt “a rage of forces in [his] mind constantly.”
“These demons of the mind are, for the most part, harnessed to productive ends,” Musk said, reflecting on all of the business accolades he’s achieved over the years.
He then realized, “Once in a while, they, you know, go wrong.”
Welp. There you have it. Even billionaires have their struggles.