Patrick McCalley, 17, was a junior at Carmel High School in Indiana. He had high hopes for the future, and was looking into joining the Air Force after graduation. At noon on October 6, 2016, he was called into the assistant principal’s office due to racially insensitive comments. He had sent a Snapchat to a few of his friends that reportedly trivialized lynching. He was questioned for two hours during an in-school-suspension and apologized for his Snapchat, calling it a “stupid and ignorant joke.” McCalley was given an affidavit by the school which he signed before being escorted out of the building by school authorities. By the time he got home he had decided to take his own life, according to the Indianapolis Star.
The teen was declared dead at 5:07 p.m. the same day as a result of suicide. Now his parents, Chris and Marilyn McCalley, are suing the school and the state of Indiana for how they handled the situation. They believe it was out of extreme fear and humiliation that their previously happy son had decided to end his life. The lawsuit states that the student’s parents were never notified during his questioning and that he was coerced into signing the affidavit. It also claims that Patrick was under “extreme, intolerable and excessive fear and psychological distress” during the questioning and that his death was the direct result of the conduct of his school administrators.
The Carmel school system released a public statement regarding the McCalley lawsuit.
“The facts we have gathered in reviewing this tragedy are very different from what is being portrayed in the lawsuit. We will follow the legal process to appropriately respond to these accusations. We are fortunate to have tremendous leadership focused on providing a safe learning environment for all of our students at Carmel Clay Schools.”
The McCalleys realize that there is nothing they can do now to change the way the situation with their son was handled or get his life back. But they do hope that the lawsuit will change the way schools look at discipline and the way it can impact a student’s mental health. They believe that if the situation had been handled differently by school authorities, it would not have escalated to the point of their son viewing suicide as his only option. “We can’t do anything to change this with Patrick. But if we do nothing and this happens to another family… I wouldn’t be able to live with myself,” Chris McCalley said.