Utah State’s Blake Anderson addresses death of son, announces mental health initiative

Blake Anderson, Utah State head coach freshman, speaks to the media during Mountain West Media Days on Wednesday, July 21, 2021 in Las Vegas. (Sean Walker, KSL.com)

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LOGAN — On Monday afternoon, Utah State football coach Blake Anderson publicly admitted that his son Cason committed suicide in February and made a plea for promoting mental health awareness.

in one six minute minute video published by Utah. State spoke to Anderson about the tragedy and its impact on his family.

“Our lives changed forever on February 28, 2022, just six months ago,” Anderson said in the video. “Cason went to a place that was so dark that he didn’t want to do it anymore, he didn’t want to be here anymore and he took his own life.

“Part of me and part of our family is gone and will never come back. Questions are all we have left. Why haven’t I seen it? How could I have helped more, what more could I have done? I mean, he didn’t tell any of us. There were no red flags, there were no warning signs, he always made sure to tell you he was fine.

Anderson went on to encourage those who are “hurt” or “struggling with dark thoughts” to “reach out” to others for help.

“There are people around you who want to help you,” he pleaded. “There are people that God has placed in your life who want to carry your burden. They would much rather carry your burden than your coffin.

“Mental health is important. I encourage you, if you or someone you know is hurting, to come forward, speak out, and do what you can to help them find the resources you need. Silence is too costly.”

Cason’s death came two years after the death of Anderson’s former wife, Wendy, who died in 2019 after a battle with cancer. It’s a time in his life that Anderson says was very tough on the family, but one he emerged from with a positive attitude. Adding to that grief was the death of his son just two years later.

During Monday morning’s press conference, Anderson announced a mental health initiative that his team would begin this week.

“We would welcome the fandom and the Valley to join us over the course of the next week and a half, especially this week as we promote mental health awareness,” Anderson said. “It’s something our staff and our players have had a lot of conversations about. It is something that there is clearly a passion for in our building.”

On Saturday, Utah State and UNLV will both wear green ribbons on their helmets, and coaches will wear the ribbons on their shirts to promote mental health.

For next week’s BYU game, Utah State will be working with the Hilinski Hope Foundation, which is led by Mark and Kim Hilinksi, who lost their son, former Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinksi, to suicide in 2018.

In the meantime, the state of Utah will post content on social media and invite others to get involved.

“We will be posting testimonials throughout the week. We’re also going to be releasing resources, and as we get closer and closer to the games, we’re just going to offer support to anyone who might be watching,” Anderson said.

“We’re going to be encouraging the fanbase to get involved, repost, retweet, comment and really just kind of get the dialogue going for our fanbase in the valley and really for everyone nationally who’s watching.”

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