Tysen Benz, 11, died this week after a shocking and manipulative social media prank by his 13-year-old girlfriend led him to hang himself. Benz, from Marquette, Michigan, spent weeks on machines to keep him alive following his suicide attempt. Katrina Goss, 41, Tysen’s mother, told People Magazine that a 13-year-old girl, who supposedly “cared about him,” faked her own death via several social media sites, which ultimately led to the successful hanging death of her own son.
Police in Marquette confirmed that Tysen Benz’s teenage girlfriend has been criminally charged as a result of the alleged social media prank. The 13-year-old remains unidentified, but Katrina Goss claims that the 13-year-old was Tysen’s girlfriend, adding that she faked her own suicide last month, a prank that her friends circulated among several social media sites. Just one hour after the 13-year-old faked her own death on March 14, Tysen Benz was found unresponsive after he hanged himself.
Tysen was resuscitated but was taken off of life support three weeks later, on Tuesday, in an Ann Arbor, Michigan, hospital due to severe brain damage, which doctors said he would never recuperate from. Katrina Goss says she is “utterly devastated” and “will never get over” Tysen’s death, adding that she truly didn’t know what the point of the social media prank was.
Tysen Benz, who’s being called amazing and super social, reportedly told friends of the 13-year-old that he was thinking about suicide. However, they kept the internet prank going, and Katrina concludes that the girl — whom she has never met — must have “severe psychological issues” to let Tysen hang himself.
The accused 13-year-old is being charged with “malicious use of telecommunication services and using a computer to commit a crime.” Authorities say that Tysen Benz had been in contact with the 13-year-old via social media prior to his suicide attempt. After Tysen’s girlfriend faked her own death, Tysen reportedly expressed to her friends that he was also going to commit suicide, but no one contacted authorities or Tysen’s mother. Katrina Goss claims that everyone involved should have been “intelligent enough to know right from wrong,” and went on to say that she had been wanting the girl to cease communication with Tysen for months.
Katrina Goss calls the social media prank a “sick online joke,” according to the New York Post. Goss goes on to say that it was a “shocking, controlling, and harassing” stunt that was coordinated between the 13-year-old girl and her friends, adding that she doesn’t think the “horrific prank” should be taken lightly and that the 13-year-old should be legally held responsible.
The deadly prank allegedly started after Tysen Benz purchased a cell phone from a friend without Katrina’s knowledge. Although it’s unclear what exactly motivated the prank, Tysen reportedly used the cell phone to secretly date the 13-year-old girl. The Marquette Police Department is only saying that there’s an ongoing investigation into the death of Tysen Benz.
The 13-year-old girl is a minor but could be tried as an adult, according to the Daily Mail. The story of the fake suicide that led to the real suicide of Tysen Benz went viral on Facebook this week, following news on Thursday that he had passed. Facebook users are calling the social media prank a “really sad chain of events,” with some comments saying that Tysen Benz was too young to even be on social media, too young to use the internet unsupervised, and too young to have a girlfriend.
Katrina Goss agrees, saying that “little kids don’t need to worry about that stuff,” adding that “parents need to monitor their children’s online activities so things like this don’t happen.” Goss believes that Tysen’s suicide was an “impulsive decision.”
“The whole thing happened in about 40 minutes. He was fine and then I found him. I don’t know what she said she did to herself.
“I urge families to speak out, reach out and communicate with your children about life’s precious gift and the dangers of the internet and texting and how telecommunications can have the same effects as speaking face to face.”
“All I’ve ever done is try my hardest to protect you, but I couldn’t protect you from this…… I’m so sorry my beautiful sweet baby. I love you,” captioned Katrina Goss on a photo of young Tysen Benz that she shared on her Facebook page in March.
Parenting says there are “serious downsides” to social media sharing among kids, including cyberbullying, Facebook depression, and exposure to inappropriate content, and published 13 internet safety tips that parents can use to help prepare kids for the online world.
[Featured Image by DGLimages/iStock]