Social media can be a blessing and a curse.
The downside is social media is filled with hurtful comments and bullying. Sadly, the family of 11-year-old Tysen Benz found out it can also be deadly after losing their child to a prank.
Their lives were forever changed when Tysen's mother, Katrina Goss, came home to find her son had hanged himself because of a trick his girlfriend played on him through social media and texts. The unnamed 13-year-old girl set up a prank to make the boy believe she had committed suicide, according to FOX59. The heartbroken mother said:
“She had pranked her own death. I don’t know what possessed her to do such a weird prank. It’s a twisted, sick joke.”
The girl tricked him into believing she was dead by telling him she was going to kill herself, and using her friends' accounts to spread the news about her death so the young boy would see it.
The 11-year-old boy responded to the messages by saying he was going to kill himself. The mother told CBS News:
“He even said he was going to kill himself and she didn’t make any attempt to call me or someone else to try to stop him. [His death] should never have happened.”
The child's mother found him hanging in his bedroom on March 14. He was kept alive on life support for three weeks before his death. Goss described letting her son go to People:
“We had to let him pass on. He was severely brain-damaged and the doctors told us he would never recuperate, that it wasn’t even really him anymore. I was at his bedside for three weeks. We are utterly devastated and we will never get over it."
The devastated mother wants parents to know what happened to her son and how a social media prank ended up taking his life within 40 minutes so they can be aware of the evil side of social media for their own children. Goss said:
“Social media harassment, bullying and pranking is a huge issue. The way it’s used nowadays, kids are desensitized to social media and it really does hurt people.”
A GoFundMe page, “For the love of Tysen Benz,” has been set up to help raise funds for his family. Tysen's mother posted:
"My son Tysen Benz was an 11 year old student, athlete, comedian, friend, brother, charismatic and all around amazing child. On Tuesday March 14th he impulsively chose to end his own life as a result of a horrific act of a social media prank which is under investigation by authorities. He clung on with the help of life support until Tuesday April 4th. He has now been set free and can Rest In Peace. He was loved by everyone he knew and he will absolutely never be forgotten. Our family is completely heartbroken.
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. I want Tysen to be remembered as he was and all the joy he's brought to everyone. Keep his spirit alive by standing strong & fighting against social media bullying!!"
The unidentified girl is now facing criminal charges in his death. She has been charged with malicious use of telecommunication services and using a computer to commit a crime.