A cruel social media prank cost 11-year-old Tysen Benz his life.

Warning: This post contains an account of youth suicide and may distressing for some readers.

After allegedly falling victim to a cruel social media prank by his teenage girlfriend, Tysen Benz ended his life.

The 11-year-old from Michigan was alone in his bedroom on a Tuesday night when he reportedly read a message from a friend of the 13-year-old girl saying she was dead.

“She logged into a friend’s account to make it look like it was a friend messaging to say she had committed suicide,” Tysen’s mother, Katrina Goss, 41, told Nine News.

“She convinced him so much, and he had such a kind heart and he was so naive that he completely believed her.”

Just hours after congratulating her middle child for taking himself to and from tutoring and watching him trudge happily to his room, the mother-of-three was desperately trying to revive him.

Meanwhile, her eldest son was on the phone to emergency services.

All I've ever done is try my hardest to protect you, but I couldn't protect you from this…… I'm so sorry my beautiful sweet baby. 💕❤💓 I love you.

Posted by Katrina Goss on Monday, 27 March 2017

“It was about 10.15pm and I tucked my littlest in first, and then went to find Tysen and I unlocked his door,” she told Nine News.

“I didn’t see him, so I thought he was being silly and just hiding on me. It wasn’t that.

“It was mass hysteria, I started screaming, it all went so fast.”

When they arrived, paramedics were unable to restart the Tysen’s heart but he remained comatose in hospital for three weeks before his mum made the difficult decision to take him off life support.

The 13-year-old girl, who went to the same school as Tysen, has since been charged with malicious use of a telecommunication service and using a computer to commit a crime.


Listen: Why the media can only report on suicide in certain ways. (Post continues after audio.)

Marquette Area Public Schools Superintendent William Saunders said in a statement he planned to work with parents to curtail the risks of social media to students.

“The loss of Tysen has been felt by all of his teachers, classmates and well beyond our school walls, by our entire community. The loss of a student and classmate is the most difficult thing a school is ever asked to deal with, but pales in comparison to what the family must be going through,” Saunders said.

“After the gut wrenching loss of a student we ask ourselves, ‘How can we do more?’ To that answer we look forward to partnering with parents and the community to double our efforts in educating all.”

For her part, Goss wants the tragedy to serve as a warning to other parents.

“I want my son to not have his death be in vain and I want him to be honoured and I want him to be the face of this cause,” she told Nine News.

“It’s a complete tragedy… it’s just unfathomable,” she said.

If you, or a young person you know, is struggling with symptoms of mental illness please contact your local headspace centre here or chat to them online, here. If you are over the age of 25 and suffering from symptoms of mental illness please contact your local GP for a Mental Health Assessment Plan or call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.

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