Talking to them, laying down the plans, I had deliberately sat on a bed away from them. All of a sudden, I pulled out my gun, shook out all five bullets, and then let them see me put back only one bullet. I twirled the cylinder, and put the muzzle to my head.
"Now, I'm going to see how much guts all of you have," I said.
I grinned at them. All of their mouths had flapped open. I pulled the trigger-we all heard it click.
"I'm going to do it again, now."
They begged me to stop. I could see in Shorty's and Rudy's eyes some idea of rushing me.
We all heard the hammer click on another empty cylinder.
The women were in hysterics. Rudy and Shorty were begging, "Man. . . Red. . . cut it out, man!. . . Freeze!" I pulled the trigger once more.
"I'm doing this, showing you I'm not afraid to die," I told them. "Never cross a man not afraid to die. . . now, let's get to work!" (9.58)
At this point in the book, Malcolm X is at the end of his rope. He's addicted to drugs, he has no money, and he's even been run out of Harlem. He doesn't say it in the book, but that situation combined with this scene of actively trying to kill himself tells us that he was probably depressed.