Describing himself as a pop icon and "soldier for culture," West told the crowd "there were times that I contemplated suicide." However, he said, "I will not give up on life again."
"There's so many people that will never get the chance to have their voice heard" as loudly as his, West said Monday. "I do it for them."
West, who didn't say when he had considered suicide, is credited as director of the abstract 35-minute film, which features portions of nine new West songs, boldly colorful visuals and off-kilter camera angles. The mostly dialogue-free piece, set to premiere this weekend on MTV, VH1 and BET, will accompany West's upcoming album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which will be released Nov. 22.
After a prelude featuring narration from rapper Nicki Minaj, West's character, Griffin, is seen driving a black MTX Tatra supercar down a country road. Lying next to a hole in the pavement is a phoenix fallen to Earth, played by model Selita Ebanks in pink, gray and brown feathers.
He takes her home and offers this advice: "First rule in this world, baby: Don't pay attention to anything you see on the news."
The phoenix sits on a lawn with a deer, rabbit and sheep, then joins West at a private parade featuring fireworks, a marching band and a float depicting Michael Jackson.
Playing over those visuals are West's next single, "All of the Lights," which he said features Elton John on piano and an all-star chorus including Alicia Keys, Rihanna, Fergie and John Legend.
Ballerinas in black tutus perform in a scene featuring his current single, "Runaway." When the tune ended, there was applause from both the on-screen and live audience. In attendance were Morgan Spurlock, Ryan Phillippe, Pete Wentz and others in the entertainment industry.
The 33-year-old West told them that after a "long, hard year," he'd found his "creative sweet spot" by thinking like "a 5-year-old at all times." Besides his mother Donda West's death in 2007, West said he'd also lost three other parental figures in the last three years.
"Everything has been taken away from me," he said. "I'm so not ... scared. I so don't care."
After the Taylor Swift incident last year, which he called "a moment of sincerity," West took a six-month break. (At the MTV Video Music Awards, Swift's acceptance speech for best female video for "You Belong with Me" was disrupted by West, who took the microphone to say Beyonce should have won instead for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).")
West said he moved to Rome and "was interning at Fendi" before finding the inspiration to get back to music.
He has hinted at the subject of suicide in his recent song "Power," which includes the repeated lines: "Now this would be a beautiful death - I'm jumping out the window, I'm letting everything go."
That song's remix is among the 10 tunes that West has released for free in recent weeks through his website, a buzz-building initiative he dubbed "G.O.O.D. Fridays" for his label imprint, Getting Out Our Dreams Music.
The producer-turned-rapper said that after Fantasy - recorded in Hawaii with the likes of Q-Tip, DJ Premier, RZA and Pete Rock - he will release an album of songs with Jay-Z and another with Lupe Fiasco and Pharrell Williams under the name Child Rebel Soldiers.