Funeral Set for 11-Year-Old Boy Who Hanged Himself After Alleged Prank
A funeral is scheduled next week for 11-year-old Michigan boy Tysen Benz, who allegedly killed himself after a social media prank
A funeral is scheduled next week for an 11-year-old Michigan boy who allegedly killed himself after a social media prank.
On Tuesday, the friends, family and community members whose lives were touched by Tysen Benz will gather to remember the sporty sixth-grader.
Tysen was removed from life support on Tuesday — exactly three weeks after hanging himself following what his mother insists was a cruel online prank.
Starting at 4 p.m., loved ones will assemble inside the Swanson-Lundquist Funeral Home in Marquette, Michigan, to memorialize Tysen’s brief life. Formal services will follow at 7 p.m., according to his obituary and the funeral home.
Marquette authorities have charged a juvenile with malicious use of telecommunication services and using a computer to commit a crime after an 11-year-old boy was found unresponsive from a reported suicide attempt on March 14.
Marquette police declined to provide many details or identify either child involved, because of their age, saying only that the boy who died was “engaged in communication with another juvenile via social media prior to the incident.”
It was not immediately clear if the child who has been charged has entered a plea.
But Katrina Goss tells PEOPLE that it was her son Tysen who tried to kill himself that March day — though he did not die until this week, in a hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
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When asked to describe her son, Goss doesn’t hesitate.
“He was amazing,” she gushes. “He was an incredible athlete and loved playing ice hockey and soccer. He would hit ski jumps and do flips. Really, he was a daredevil who was just a joy to be around.”
Tysen also had a robust sense of humor, his mom says, and did whatever he could to make his brothers — ages 10 and 14 — laugh.
‘He Was Too Young’
Goss claims that the child who is charged is a girl that Tysen knew, and that she allegedly faked her own suicide on social media as a prank soon before her son hanged himself.
Goss says the accused juvenile was Tysen’s girlfriend, and that she allegedly used various social media sites as well as social media accounts of her friends to circulate the rumor of her death.
Goss tells PEOPLE her son tried killing himself 45 minutes into the prank. She says she found him on March 14 and that emergency response teams managed to resuscitate him. Machines kept Tysen alive for weeks after he was found.
“He totally believed her,” Goss alleges. “He believed it, and he took action.”
She alleges that her son contacted the girl’s friends, expressing his thoughts of suicide — but she allegedly kept the prank alive.
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Goss says that for months she tried reaching out to the girl’s father and aunt, asking that she cease all communication with her son.
However, a person connected to the teen girl’s family says the allegations Goss made against her are false and that “it is ignorant to accuse this girl of something.”
She “never falsified a suicide,” the person tells PEOPLE. (The girl’s family did not return messages seeking comment.)
Now, with Tysen gone, Goss says she has “no interest” in speaking to the girl or her guardians.
“When you are that young, you should go to school and play sports and have regular friends,” she says. “He was too young for this.”
A GoFundMe campaign for Tysen’s medical expenses and funeral expenses has thus far raised more than $35,000.
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.