After three weeks on life support, 11-year-old Tysen Benz passed away from the injuries he suffered after a suicide attempt on March 14. Benz's suicide, reportedly resulting from a social media prank gone wrong, leaves a dark mark on the dangers of social media.
Social Media Prank
Benz's mother, Katrina Goss, is speaking out about the events that led to her son — from the time Tysen bought a cellphone without her knowledge, to her disapproval of his relationship with the girl whom she holds responsible for his death, and to the actual events that rendered him in life support for weeks before his death.
Goss reveals that in the months leading to her son's suicide, Tysen was secretly dating a 13-year-old girl whom she did not approve because of the girl's age and abusive behavior. Despite repeatedly telling the girl to leave her son and even contacting the girl's relatives about the situation, the relationship still persisted.
Benz's suicide happened after the unnamed 13-year-old girl and her peers reportedly pranked him over social media, saying that she will commit suicide, using social media as a tool to show "proof" that she ended her own life.
Goss says that even though Benz has already stated that he will end his own life due to his belief that his girlfriend has indeed committed suicide, the girl and her peers still did not come clean about the prank, nor call someone to stop Benz.
Goss is now calling on parents to monitor their children's technological device usage.
"It is not an invasion of privacy. It is imperative to know what they are doing and to whom they are socializing with," said Goss.
Investigating A Minor
Due to the nature of the events, authorities are very careful in giving out details about the events as well as the parties involved, as they are all minors. However, the Marquette Police Department confirmed that they are, indeed, conducting an investigation, but that any criminal charges will go through the Marquette County Prosecutor's office.
Latest report states that the county's Prosecutor's Office has charged the minor with using a computer to commit a crime and malicious use of telecommunication services.
A GoFundMe page has been started to cover Tysen's medical expenses, and to spread awareness about online bullying.
Social Media Gone Wrong
Started as a tool for communicating with peers all over the world and to make new friends, social media has evolved into a complex community that has seen its fair share of tragic events.
However, this particular case was not the result of depression or prolonged cyber-bullying but instead shows how social media was used as a tool to taunt and provoke another user into suicide, something that goes beyond AI detection.