Of all the Pulitzer Prize–winning photographs, The Vulture and the Little Girlserves as the one with the most tragic story. Kevin Carter took this picture—which appeared in The New York Times on March 26, 1993—to document the situation going on in Sudan at that time.
The child, who is a boy but was believed to be a girl at the time, was struggling to reach a United Nations feeding center when he collapsed, weak from starvation. Carter took the picture of the emaciated toddler with a vulture standing nearby and received the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography in 1994.
The image immediately evoked harsh criticism of Carter, whom many condemned for taking a picture instead of helping the child. Four months after receiving the Pulitzer, Carter committed suicide. The psychological trauma he suffered from witnessing such hardship accompanied by the criticism he received for covering it pushed him to end his own life.
Bishop Desmond Tutu wrote of Carter’s suicide, “And we know a little about the cost of being traumatized that drove some to suicide, that, yes, these people were human beings operating under the most demanding of conditions.”