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

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LOGAN — On Monday afternoon, Utah State football coach Blake Anderson acknowledged publicly that his son, Cason, died by suicide in February, and made a plea to promote mental health awareness.

In a six minutes minute video released by Utah. State, Anderson spoke 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 he didn't want to do it anymore, he didn't want to be here anymore and he took his own life.

"A piece of me and a piece of our family is gone and it will never come back. Questions are all we're left (with). Why didn't I see it? How could I have helped more, what more could I have done? I mean, he never let any of us know. There were no red flags, there were no warning signs, he always made sure to tell you he was OK."

Anderson went on to encourage those that are "hurting" or "dealing with dark thoughts" to "reach out" to others for help.

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

"Mental health matters. I encourage you if you or someone you know is hurting, to step up, speak out, and do everything you can to help them find the recourses you need. Staying silent 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 period of his life that Anderson said was really hard on the family, but one that he's come out of with a positive outlook. The death of his son only added to that grief two years later.

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

"We would welcome the fan base and the valley to join with us over the course of the next week and a half, especially this week, as we promote mental health awareness," Anderson said. "This is something that our staff and our players have had a lot of conversations about. It's something that there's a passion for inside our building clearly."

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

For the BYU game the following week, Utah State will partner with the Hilinski Hope Foundation, run by Mark and Kim Hilinksi, who lost their son, former Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinksi, to suicide in 2018.

In the meantime, Utah State will release content on social media and invite others to join in.

"We'll be dropping testimonials all week long. We'll also be releasing resources, and really as we get closer and closer to games, just (offering) support for anybody that may be watching," Anderson said.

"We're gonna encourage the fan base to join in, repost, retweet, comment, and really just kind of get the dialogue going for our fan base in the valley and really for anybody nationally that's watching."

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