Kevin Carter Committed Suicide months after winning the Pulitzer Prize
Kevin Carter is a South African photojournalist born in September 1960 during the apartheid era.
I can guarantee you have seen his work! Remember the above iconic photo from 1993?
Well this was taken by Carter and was by far his most iconic photo during his career. His career however, courted much controversy.
When this photograph was published in the New York Times on March 26, 1993, the reader’s reaction was intense and not all positive. In one single photo the hurt and pain of the people of Sudan during the famine was captured. Some readers said that Kevin Carter, the photojournalist who took this photo, was inhumane and that he should have been more concerned with helping the little girl then actually taking photos. The controversy only grew when, a few months later, he won the Pulitzer Prize for the photo.
Carter pride at winning the Pulitzer Prize was obvious and he wrote the following back to his parents in Johannesburg.
“I can’t wait to show you the trophy. It is the most precious thing, and the highest acknowledgment of my work I could receive.”
By the end of July 1994, he was dead.
During his life as a photojournalist he witnessed countless tragedies and people only realised after his death how his life on the frontline of these tragedies affected him. By the end, he couldn’t cope with feelings of guilt, sadness and people questioning him.
He left the following note before he committed suicide;
“I am depressed … without phone … money for rent … money for child support … money for debts … money!!! … I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings and corpses and anger and pain … of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners…I have gone to join Ken if I am that lucky.”
The life, work and subsequent suicide of Carter is equally inspiring and heart breaking. Here was a man who only wanted to raise awareness of global issues that others ignored or didn’t want to know about. Unfortunately, he was equally praised and vilified for his work and this subsequently lead to him taking his own life. He was a man who made a positive difference and helped take issues in Africa and further afield to a global audience and we therefore salute and remember him for this work.