An 11-year-old Michigan boy hanged himself after his 13-year-old girlfriend faked her own suicide as part of a “manipulative” social media prank, his mother told The Post.
Katrina Goss, of Marquette, said her son Tysen Benz died at a hospital in Ann Arbor on Tuesday after she found him trying to take his life on March 14. She said that she later learned her son’s suicide attempt was in response to a sick online joke.
The shocking stunt, Goss claimed, was carefully coordinated between the teen girl — whose name is being withheld by The Post because she is a minor — and her friends.
“I’m quite angry,” Goss said in an interview on Thursday.
“I feel like, yeah, they’re young and all that, but 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.
“I don’t feel like it should be taken lightly. She should be held legally responsible for this horrific prank.”
Capt. Mike Kohler of the Marquette Police Department confirmed there’s an investigation into Tysen’s death, but declined to comment directly on his mother’s allegations.
“If criminal charges are going to come out of this, they’ll be forwarded to the prosecutor’s office for review,” Kohler told The Post.
Goss said trouble began after Tysen — an active, athletic and popular student at Bothwell Middle School — bought a cellphone from a friend without Goss’ knowledge. That’s when he began “secretly dating” the teen, who inexplicably concocted the “controlling, harassing and manipulative” prank on her son, Goss said.
“She 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,” the mother said. “So, he believed her and said, ‘I’m going to kill myself.’”
Precisely what motivated the girl is unclear, Goss said. Attempts to reach her parents were unsuccessful Thursday.
“I don’t know what she actually thought,” Goss said of the 13-year-old. “I feel like she certainly took it to the extreme, using other people’s accounts, with other people backing it up on several social media platforms … I don’t know how or why she initiated this.”
Goss said she never met the girl, but would see her while dropping off or picking up her son from school or hockey practice. She didn’t approve of their relationship, which other students at school characterized as “boyfriend-girlfriend,” she said.
“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 … [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.”
William Saunders, superintendent of Marquette Area Public Schools, said in a statement that they had few details because the incident happened off of school grounds, but that officials were cooperating with investigators.
He also warned that young students need to be careful online.
“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 $31,000 had been raised by Thursday in a GoFundMe campaign created days after the boy was hospitalized.
“He has now been set free and can Rest In Peace,” the website reads. “He was loved by everyone he knew and he will absolutely never be forgotten. Our family is completely heartbroken.”
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