Michigan Boy, 11, Hangs Himself After Social Media Prank
Tysen was reading texts and other messages about the faked suicide and decided he would end his life too, his mother said.
Tysen Benz was at home when he saw social media posts indicating that his 13-year-old girlfriend had committed suicide. The posts were a prank, but the 11-year-old boy apparently believed them.
Moments later, his mother found him hanging by the neck in his room in Marquette, Michigan. Now a prosecutor is pursuing criminal charges against a juvenile accused of being involved in the scheme, which Katrina Goss described as "a twisted, sick joke."
Goss described her son as appearing "fine" just 40 minutes before she found him.
"I just want it be exposed and be addressed," Goss said of school bullying in general and cyberbullying in particular. "I don't want it be ignored."
Using a cellphone he bought without his mother's knowledge, Tysen on March 14 was reading texts and other messages about the faked suicide and decided he would end his life too, his mother said.
After seeing the posts about his girlfriend, Tysen replied over social media that he was going to kill himself, and no one involved in the prank told an adult, Goss said.
The boy died Tuesday at a Detroit-area hospital.
Authorities would not release the age of the juvenile charged or comment on what relationship the person had with Tysen. The juvenile is being charged with malicious use of telecommunication services and using a computer to commit a crime.
The girl whose death was faked and friends who were in on the prank attended the same school as Tysen, Goss said. Even though the prank occurred outside of school, she said, the school should have done more to protect her son.
"The principal, the assistant principal that's their job, especially for little kids," she said. "Kids take things to heart."
In a statement released Thursday, Marquette Area Public Schools Superintendent William Saunders agreed with Goss's concerns about the dangers of social media. He said the district has been educating students and parents through its health curriculum, health fairs, community forums and other efforts.
"After the gut-wrenching loss of a student, we ask ourselves, 'How can we do more?'" Saunders wrote.