PeteFest: stomping out the stigma of mental illness

Stomping out the stigma with Petefest

A three-day festival beginning Friday hopes to shatter the stigma of mental illness and suicide.

The disease hit home for the Louisville family behind PeteFest, who chose not to stay quiet about their tragedy but rather open up about it.

Pete Jones' family says he was a shining light.

"He was always so happy. He was so nice, charming, the funnest guy. He was always making jokes, making people laugh. Even for the family it was a pretty big shock," Michelle Jones, his sister said.

Few people knew about the darkness Pete faced for more than a decade.

"He did suffer from depression and anxiety," Molly Jones, his mother said.

On December 9, 2016, Pete decided he'd had enough. He was 23 years old.

"He just chose to end his life,' his mom said.

It was a devastating loss for his parents, three brothers and a sister.

"If he realized how much we would suffer, if he'd put us into his equation, he wouldn't have done that because of how much he loved us and cared about us," Molly Jones said.

The family founded The Pete Foundation for Depression Prevention, an avenue of resources for people struggling with both the disease and the stigma.

"Everybody has to stop being afraid to talk about it," his mother said.

Their message went global within days. Pete's story was revealed in a very candid obituary in the Courier Journal, discussing his illness and his suicide. Days later, it ran in the LA Times and The New York Times, where the Jones' had family connections.

"I can't take credit for the way it was written. I have to give that to my children. To tell any story but the complete, full truth would be to breach the love they had for Pete," his mother said.

The response from coast to coast was so great, PeteFest was born, a 3-day music festival on the Jones' 90-acre nature preserve off Seatonville Road in Southeast Louisville. Thirty bands will take the stage from Delta Saints,  Dr. Dundiff, Cheyenne Mize and Appalatin. Sunday will feature the area's younger up and coming artists.

"It's really a way to bring the community together, where everyone can be inspired, can feel safe and together know that they have an opportunity to express themselves," Pete's sister said.

A party with a purpose in memory of Pete.

Festival goers are encouraged to set up chairs, or even a tent and enjoy a weekend of music, food and some camping. There will, of course, be mental illness and sobriety advocates on hand for anyone needing help.
You can buy tickets for this weekend's festival at http://petefest.thepetefoundation.org/.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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