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William Crandell | 1968-2016: 
He was a man who stood up

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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.

Kyle Poplin

Kyle Poplin is co-founder and editor of The Ann magazine.

2 Comments

  1. Alex Rush

    August 4, 2016 at 11:31 pm

    You ask “Should we have passed on the chance to run his story?”

    How could you not? Why would you want to silence such an eloquent voice? You treated him like a competent adult who was able to make his own choices and deal with the consequences.

    Would you have wanted, instead, to silence him “for his own good”?

    People who are struggling with drugs,alcohol, mental illness, whatever, deserve our respect, not our treating them like helpless children who must be protected from consequences.

    You did not callously override his wishes. You gave him an amplifier, not a gag. I admire him and I admire you for beginning to voice what has too long been treated as shameful.

    His voice may encourage someone else to speak up. And wouldn’t we all be better off if those voices are brought into the conversation, not stifled out of some misplaced gallantry of protecting the weak?

    He was a brave man. It is not easy to either face your demons or give in to them. Let’s applaud his bravery and keep the conversation going.

  2. Ashton Marr

    August 5, 2016 at 11:40 pm

    It is an incredibly painful experience to watch someone suffer with mental health and / or substance use disorders. It can be even more difficult to remember that we didn’t cause it, we can’t control it, and we can’t cure it. It is clear from this article that you cared about Mr. Crandell and hoped for his recovery. By publishing his story, you are giving him a chance to save someone else’s life.

    Thank you for all you do and for giving a voice to those who suffer from addiction. You let me tell my story a few months ago and I will never forget the kindness and compassion I received from those at The Ann. As long as we keep reaching out to others and keep the conversation about addiction alive in our community, it will honor Mr. Crandell’s memory.

    We can recover. We do recover. And, the entire community benefits when we do. We are worth the effort.

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