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A Teen Is Facing Criminal Charges For A Social Media Prank After Her 11-Year-Old Friend Killed Himself

Tysen Benz's mother said her son's suicide was a response to his 13-year-old girlfriend faking her own death on social media.

Last updated on April 6, 2017, at 6:53 p.m. ET

Posted on April 6, 2017, at 4:51 p.m. ET

Tysen Benz, an 11-year-old boy in Michigan, died Tuesday, the result of a suicide attempt following what his mother claims was a social media prank by his 13-year-old girlfriend.


Benz was on life support after he tried to end his life on March 14, according to a GoFundMe page set up in his name by his family in Marquette, Michigan.

Police said they responded to reports of an attempted suicide on March 14. They found the 11-year-old unresponsive and transported him to a hospital. Benz died of his injuries on Tuesday.

His mother, Katrina Goss, alleged that Benz killed himself as a "result of a horrific act of a social media prank."

On Thursday, Marquette Police told BuzzFeed News that prosecutors had authorized charges against a 13-year-old girl who was engaged in social media communication with Benz prior to his attempted suicide.

The charges included "Malicious use and Computer-Using to Commit a Crime" police said. They did not name Benz or the individual who was charged because of their juvenile status. Police also did not provide details or comment directly on Goss's allegations.

Goss's told BuzzFeed News on Thursday that she was grateful for the "national awareness" her son's story was getting.

"Social media pranking needs to be taken very, very seriously," Goss said. "My son's life will be cherished and forever honored by myself and my sons."

Goss told BuzzFeed News on Thursday that she believed Benz's 13-year-old girlfriend was "solely responsible for his suicide death" and that he was the "happiest" child until he met her.


Goss said she "100% believed" that the teen was responsible for her son's death.

"He was the happiest, most joyous child until he met her, she was mean to him, controlled him and took advantage of him," she said. "Even after I repeatedly told her to leave him alone."

Benz, a student at Bothwell Middle School, began secretly dating the 13-year-old girl after he bought a cell phone without his mother's knowledge, Goss told the New York Post.

Goss told BuzzFeed News that it went on for about five to six months, but that she was "100% against it" due to their age difference.

Goss alleged that the teen "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, [Benz] believed her and said, 'I'm going to kill myself,'" Goss told the Post.

Goss described her son as a "student, athlete, comedian, friend, brother, charismatic and all around amazing child."

"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.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.