How this book came to be

In the spring of 2015, the MIT community experienced a terrible spate of suicides. Daniel Jackson, a professor of computer science and an accomplished photographer, set out to meet students, faculty and staff who were suffering from depression and anxiety and to make their portraits. The gallery of portraits, he hoped, would be a source of reassurance to others who were suffering, and would go beyond destigmatization to celebrating the resilience of those who face these challenges.

Through the fall and following spring, he photographed a brave group of people who responded to a call for participation. Initially, his plan was to accompany each portrait by a short caption in the subject’s own words. But the stories proved so moving and compelling that they came to form portraits of a different sort, in words.

The initial collection of stories and images were published in the MIT newspaper in the spring of 2016. Over the course of the next year, Jackson added new ones, and brought them together in a book.

The book includes 43 full page duotone images, complementing the portraits with stunning views of MIT’s architectural landmarks.

Mental health resources

If you need help, please visit the resources I’ve collected here.


This book was funded in part by grants from the MIT Council for the Arts and the Innovation Fund of the MindHandHeart Initiative.