Derek Peth may not have found love with JoJo Fletcher on The Bachelorette
, but that hasn't stopped him from using his fame for good.
The 29-year-old commercial banker, who was eliminated
during season 12's sixth episode, has discovered a passion for supporting victims of domestic and sexual assault, a cause that hits close to home.
In a new interview with Bustle
, Peth explains that his best friend, Mark, recently lost his sister, Brenda, to suicide.
"She was very much a free spirit and traveled around the United States and the world as well," Peth reveals. "She had worked very closely for years with women that had been victims of domestic violence, domestic assault and sexual assault, so it was a very important thing to her. She was such a giving, caring person and she, in her own life, didn’t have the support she needed recently and actually committed suicide."
The former Bachelorette suitor says that he "didn't know how to help" his friend at first, other than sending him love and making sure “he knows that he's my brother and anything he needs I'm here for."
But it later came to him that perhaps he could use his newfound fame to help raise awareness.
"When [the family] announced that they were requesting donations in support of Brenda’s causes, I was like, 'I gotta get other people involved in this somehow,'" he remembers. "I’ve been given somewhat of a platform to speak from, and if this isn’t the right reason to -- I’m here for the 'right reasons'-- if this isn’t the right reason to utilize that, then what is?"
In honor of his friend's sister, Peth set up a GoFundMe page
to raise money that will ultimately help survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault. In just nine days, over $2,580 has been donated.
"My hope is just to show Mark and his family some love, and show them how much I want [Brenda's] name to be remembered in the most positive light possible," Peth adds. "And for her to be able to help, through her story, as many women as possible, even though she’s no longer here with us."
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).