Cruel social media prank allegedly led child to kill himself
An 11-year-old Michigan boy ended his own life after a social media prank went horribly wrong, his mother told the New York Post.
Katrina Goss said that her son, Tysen Benz, died in the hospital on Tuesday after she found him trying to kill himself on March 14. She said she found out that her son's suicide attempt was a response to a joke that was coordinated by friends.
"I'm quite angry," Goss told The Post.
"I feel like, yeah, they're young and all that ... you're completely knowledgeable of your choices and you know right from wrong. You can make your own choices."
She added that those involved in the prank must be held "legally responsible" for the outcome.
Goss told CBS News that she believes her son was manipulated by a 13-year-old girl, who has not been identified because she is a minor.
"She told him she was going to kill herself and used other friends' social media accounts to put forth further fake proof that she did so," Goss told CBS News.
"He even said he was going to kill himself and she didn't make any attempt to call me or someone else to try to stop him. [His death] should never have happened."
Goss said that she did not approve of her son's relationship with the older girl, and she repeatedly told her to stop contacting him.
"Please monitor all of your children's technological device usage," Goss told CBS News. "It is not an invasion of privacy. It is imperative to know what they are doing and to whom they are socializing with."
Goss said that trouble began for Tysen when he bought a phone from a friend without telling his mother.
She told The Post that it's not clear what motivated the prank.
"He was probably the most amazing kid that you would ever know," Goss said. "He was in every sport, he was super social, he had tons of friends and every single person who knew him loved him."
Capt. Mike Kohler of the Marquette Police Department told The Post that there is an ongoing investigation into Tysen's death. He would not comment on the allegations Goss made.
William Saunders, the superintendent of Marquette Area Public Schools, said in a statement that they had few details about the incident because it happened off of school grounds.
"Many of us have followed Tysen's mother on social media and agree wholeheartedly in her statements regarding the dangers of social media," Saunders said. "After the gut-wrenching loss of a student we ask ourselves, 'How can we do more?'"
More than $35,000 has been raised by a GoFundMe in Tysen's honor.