An 11-year-old Michigan boy tragically killed himself in despair after falling prey to an Internet prank that convinced him that his 13-year-old girlfriend had committed suicide.
Tysen Benz, 11, attempted to hang himself on March 14 and was rushed to a local hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he later died due to deprivation of oxygen, according to the New York Post.
The boy’s mother, Katrina Goss, of Marquette, said that her son killed himself after becoming distraught over a social media prank started by the boy’s girlfriend. But the prank went terribly wrong.
The girlfriend, who was not identified due to her age, reportedly cooked up the “joke” that she committed suicide and then got her friends to help her convince Tysen via social media posts and texting that it was all real.
The boy fell for the joke but became so distraught over the girl’s “death” that he tried to kill himself too.
The boy’s heartbroken mother wants prosecutors to hold the girl accountable for the deadly prank.
“I’m quite angry,” Goss told the media.
Goss continued saying that she understands that the deadly jokers were all kids, but she is convinced that they all know right from wrong.
“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,” Goss insisted.
Authorities have not decided what, if any, charges will be filed against the girl. It is possible that she could be charged as an adult.
The boy’s mother also said that her son secretly bought a cell phone to communicate with this girl and that he was hanging around with her despite his mother’s warning not to.
“He was probably the most amazing kid that you would ever know,” Goss explained. “He was in every sport, he was super social, he had tons of friends and every single person who knew him loved him … [He] was the last person who would choose this choice, which I think was an impulsive choice based on a controlling, harassing and manipulative prank from this girl.”
A GoFundMe page was started to help the family defray the costs of dealing with this tragedy. Thus far over $32,000 has been raised.
“I want Tysen to be remembered as he was and all the joy he’s brought to everyone,” Goss wrote on the fundraising page. “Keep his spirit alive by standing strong & fighting against social media bullying!”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.