11-year-old kills self after girlfriend fakes death in online prank

DETROIT (AP) — Prosecutors have authorized computer-related charges against a juvenile after a Michigan mother says a social media and texting prank led her 11-year-old son to take his own life.

The unnamed juvenile is being charged in Marquette County with telecommunication services-malicious use and using a computer to commit a crime, Marquette city police Capt. Michael Kohler said Thursday in a news release.

Police would not release the age of the juvenile charged or comment on what relationship the person had with the boy. The prosecutor’s office declined to comment Thursday.

Tysen Benz was found March 14 hanging by the neck in his room after seeing social media posts and texts that his 13-year-old girlfriend killed herself, his mother, Katrina Goss told The Associated Press.

Goss said the girl and some friends orchestrated the prank and that Tysen replied over social media that he was going to kill himself.

“She had pranked her own death,” the 41-year-old Goss said. “I don’t know what possessed her to do such a weird prank. It’s a twisted, sick joke.”

Those involved in the prank didn’t even tell an adult after Tysen responded that he was going to take his own life, his mother said.

“The whole thing happened in about 40 minutes,” Goss said. “He was fine and then I found him. I don’t know what she said she did to herself.”

Tysen was rushed to an area hospital and later transferred to the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor, near Detroit. He died Tuesday.

Goss said she assumes Tysen and the girl met at — or through — school.

“Social media harassment, bullying and pranking is a huge issue,” she added. “The way it’s used nowadays, kids are desensitized to social media and it really does hurt people.”

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