The mom of 11-year-old Michigan boy Tysen Benz, who allegedly killed himself after a social media prank, spoke out about removing him from life support

By Chris Harris and Greg Hanlon
May 08, 2017 01:40 PM

The mother of an 11-year-old Michigan boy who allegedly killed himself after a social media prank spoke out this week about the painful decision to remove her son from life support.

“I had to make the choice,” Katrina Goss, Tysen Benz’s mom, told Dr. Phil McGraw in a Monday interview on his show. “It was the hardest choice that I would ever have to make.”

She added, “I don’t even know how to describe it. I don’t wish it on anyone or my worst enemy. It was — it was horrible.”

Tyson hanged himself on March 14 after what Marquette County, Michigan, Prosecuting Attorney Matt Wiese has described to the Detroit Free Press as an Internet “hoax of somebody dying.” (PEOPLE’s email to Wiese on Monday was not immediately returned.)

Tysen was on life support for three weeks before being removed on April 4.

“I mean he was so young. He was only 11,” his mom told McGraw. “So to see a little child who was so innocent and had the most — the brightest future — to have to let him go was horrific.”

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A 13-year-old girl has been charged as a juvenile in connection with Benz’s death. She is accused of malicious use of telecommunication services and using a computer to commit a crime.

Wiese previously told the Free Press there was a “logical connection” between the alleged hoax and Tysen’s suicide.

Explaining the decision the charge the girl, he said, “I just felt that we had to have an impact on the 13-year-old, not necessarily punitive, but for accountability,”

Tysen Benz
| Credit: Prayers to Tysen/Facebook

A spokesperson for the Marquette County Court Clerk tells PEOPLE the girl’s initial hearing is Monday afternoon. She has been out without bond because she is a juvenile, the spokesperson says. She has not entered a plea.

PEOPLE’s call to the girl’s attorney, Sarah Henderson, was not immediately returned. Her family has not returned earlier calls for comment.

Authorities have not revealed more specifics about the nature of the alleged prank or the girl’s relationship to Tysen. But Goss previously alleged to PEOPLE to that the accused girl was Tysen’s girlfriend, and that she used various social media sites as well as social media accounts of her friends to circulate a rumor that she died.

Goss said her son allegedly contacted the girl’s friends, expressing his thoughts of suicide — but the accused girl kept the prank going.

“I truly don’t know what the point of this prank was. I don’t even know how that’s supposed to be funny, especially if she cared about him at all. I am not sure how that could be a joke,” Goss previously told PEOPLE.

Describing Tysen, Goss said, “He was amazing — an amazing athlete who was super fun and had a great sense of humor. He was extremely social; the whole community is upset.”

She said that she and her family “are utterly devastated, and we will never get over it.”

Suicide Prevention: What to Know

Experts say some common warning signs of suicide include discussing a desire to die or feeling hopeless, like a burden, or trapped or in pain; withdrawing from others; extreme mood swings, including anger and recklessness; and abnormal sleep patterns (sleeping too much or too little).

Many suicides have multiple causes and are not triggered by one event, according to experts, who underline that suicidal crises can be overcome with help. Where mental illness is a factor, it can be treated.

Reaching out to those in need is a simple and effective preventative measure, experts say.

If you or someone you know is showing warning signs of suicide, consider contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK, texting the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or seeking help from a professional.