Shark Tank's Robert Herjavec Considered Suicide After His Marriage Failed: "I Just Wanted to End It"

Dancing With the Stars competitor credits a volunteer stint at Union Gospel Mission, a hospital in Seattle, for saving his life

By Rebecca Macatee Mar 18, 2015 2:17 PMTags

No amount of money can compensate for a broken heart—just ask Robert Herjavec.

The Shark Tank investor and Dancing With the Stars competitor, 51, is a multimillionaire tech mogul, but that didn't matter much when pain of his marriage ending left him contemplating suicide. As he tells People, "I just wanted to end it."

"It's been a terribly difficult year," he admits. Herjavec and Diane Plese, his wife of 24 years, "were great parents and a great team," he says, " but over time we drifted apart."

The exes have three high school and college aged kids. When Herjavec and Plese first split, the children initially stopped talking to their father. "Everyone has their kryptonite," he tells People. "For me, it was my kids. It took me to a place I never thought I would go."

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Fortunately, Herjavec's pastor steered him to Union Gospel Mission, a homeless shelter in Seattle. There, he tells the mag, he got right to work volunteering in the soup kitchen, where no one knew who he was. "People thought I was a recovering addict," he says.

Helping others was cathartic for Herjavec, who says seeing the "suffering and hopelessness" of others helped him move past his own pain. He worked with the shelter for two-and-half weeks, even heading out on late-night "search and rescue missions," he tells People, which involved bringing food and other necessities to "people living beneath underpasses and under trees, who aren't well enough to make it into the shelter."

"I was hollow and broken," he says. "And these people saved my life."

After a cathartic 14 days with the shelter (where he still volunteers today), Herjavec says he was looking for a new challenge to focus his attention on. This was when he was offered a spot on Dancing With the Stars, a show he used to watch with his mother in the hospital. Sadly, she lost her battle to ovarian cancer in 2007, but as Herjavec remembers fondly, his late mother "loved the pageantry" of the show.

Herjavec was hooked, too, and although the father of three "went into this reality petrified," he says, "Now I'm thinking, 'I got this.' But we'll see."

We'll see indeed. As for rumors that he and DWTS partner Kym Johnson are dating?! "The entire cast and crew of Dancing with the Stars is evolving into an extended family and is incredibly supportive," he tells People. "Kym has become a great friend, and it is so much fun to be able to share this experience with her."

If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).