11-year-old Michigan boy commits suicide after girlfriend fakes death in online prank

Priya Joshi
Tysen Benz

An 11-year-old boy in Michigan committed suicide after falling victim to a cruel prank on social media.

Katrina Goss claims her son, Tysen Benz, took his life after his 13-year-old girlfriend enlisted her friends to fake her death in what she described as a "controlling, harassing and manipulative" stunt.

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According to Mail Online, Goss told the New York Post: "She did a prank that made it look like she killed herself and used other friends and their [social media] accounts to make it look like she killed herself. So, he believed her and said, 'I'm going to kill myself.' "

Goss described how she walked in on her son as he was trying to hang himself on 14 March. He was placed on life support for several weeks, but later died at a hospital in Ann Arbor.

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Describing Tysen as an "amazing son" she revealed that problems arose when he started "secretly dating" an older girl.

Goss said she never met the girl, who as a minor cannot be identified, but had seen her at Bothwell Middle School, which her son also attended.

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The grieving mother said the girl should be held culpable for her actions that lead to her son's tragic death.

"I'm quite angry," Goss said. "I feel like, yeah, they're young and all that, but I feel like when you're 13, you're completely knowledgeable of your choices and you know right from wrong.

"You can make your own choices. I do feel like she took advantage of a younger boy to control and manipulate him. I don't feel like it should be taken lightly. She should be held legally responsible for this horrific prank,"' she said.

Dangers of social media

Paying tribute to her son, she warned parents to talk to their children about the dangers of the internet, texting and social media.

"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," she said.

"I want Tysen to be remembered as he was and all the joy he's brought to everyone. Keep his spirit alive by standing strong & fighting against social media bullying."

Capt. Mike Kohler of the Marquette Police Department said that an investigation into Tysen's death is ongoing, adding that the girl could be tried as an adult if charges are brought.

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