William Crandell | 1968-2016:
He was a man who stood up
In June’s issue, William Crandell wrote unflinchingly about how his life spiraled out of control, hoping it would help others avoid making the same mistakes he’s made. He desperately wanted his article to matter.
Shortly after the magazine came out, he texted me. He said someone had stopped him on the street to tell him his article was “over dramatic and whiny” and William wanted to know if that was the general consensus among those who’d read it. I said we’d gotten a voice message urging William to persevere, and I told him that the person I considered the best writer in town had sent a note saying that William’s piece was “utterly fantastic.” William texted back immediately: “Thanks I needed that.”
Two days later, he killed himself.
The news came as a shock to those of us at the magazine who recently came to know William. Sure, we knew it was a possibility, because William was sick and confused and desperate. But we also knew he had the strength, as very few people do, to stand up — to put himself, defects and all, in the public conversation to be judged. We believed or hoped that meant he had the strength to carry on. We were wrong.
Now we’re left wondering what we could have done differently. How we could have better supported him? Should we have passed on the chance to run his story? Frankly, we want to know if we did right by William. We’ll never know, but we’ll never stop asking what if.
Now, as reality settles in, there are even more questions. Is there anything we can do to amplify William’s voice? What can we do to follow his lead and stand up? How can we make a difference in the ongoing tragedy that is homelessness?
You’re invited to help.