State of Utah Coach Blake Anderson released a video on Monday announcing that he and the Aggies program will dedicate this week’s game against UNLV to raising mental health awareness. The effort includes various messages on the program’s social media accounts, providing information on resources for those in need and testimonies from players and staff about their own experiences and struggles with mental health.
Speaking to the camera, Anderson began the round of testimonies by sharing the story of his son Cason, who committed suicide in February.
“Somewhere in the middle of the night when everyone was gone, Cason went to a place that was so dark he didn’t want to do it anymore,” Anderson said. “He didn’t want to be here anymore… Our lives changed forever that morning. Part of me, part of our family is gone and will never come back.”
Anderson, 53, said he and his family never saw any sign Cason was having problems and have since grappled with questions about why and how it might have happened.
“He didn’t let any of us know,” Anderson said. “There were no red flags. There were no warning signs. He always told you he was fine. If you’re hurt, if you’re struggling with dark thoughts, if you’re depressed, if you’re dealing with grief so heavy you don’t know what to do with it, please reach out.”
Anderson and his family have faced tragedy before. Anderson’s first wife, Wendy, was diagnosed with breast cancer while he was in the state of Arkansas and died in 2019. His father died about six months after Wendy’s death, and his brother was diagnosed with colon cancer about a year later.
Anderson noted that being willing to talk about mental health issues is not common for people of his generation. His hope is that the state of Utah can help change the stigma around it by shedding light on the issue.
“I grew up in an era and time when, as a man, you didn’t show that you were hurt. You haven’t shown that you’re in pain. you didn’t cry It was the ‘get up, dust off, stick it on, get back to work’ mentality,” Anderson said. “Unfortunately I’ve probably spent most of my life as a father and as a coach probably taught my kids the same way. …
“There are people around you who want to help you. 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 matters. I encourage you, if you or someone you know is hurting, to come in, speak up, and do whatever you can to help them find the resources they need. Silence is too expensive.”
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