The Tragic Death of Eleven-Year-Old Tysen Benz

Trevor Wickstrom, Staff Reporter

As has been reported many times now, cyber harassment has become an epidemic. Especially when digital tools turn to weapons in the hands of young teenagers. Tysen Benz was the victim of a so-called “prank” when his mother, Katrina Goss, found her son hanging in his room in their Marquette, Michigan home.

Tysen Benz was only eleven years old.

According to New York Daily News, Goss states, “He was not a kid who was all sad and depressed and had all these problems,” also, “”For him to do that so suddenly just because of a girl, whatever she said … that just shows the effects of social media pranking and bullying.”

A 13 year-old girl (who is not being identified due to her age) set up an elaborate hoax and then had her friends claim she had committed suicide, according to New York Daily Times. New York Daily Times writes, ““I don’t know if it was texting or Snapchat or Instagram,” Goss said. “(She said) ‘Oh, I’m going to kill myself,’ and then used a friend’s computer to say she’d died when really it was her doing it.”

The mother found Benz hanging by a belt in his closet, and attempted CPR, while her other sons called 911. He was transported to a Marquette hospital unconscious, and then was transported to Ann Arbor’s University of Michigan’s hospital where he eventually passed away.

It was an unexpected event for the entire community, because it was out of the normal for Benz, according to the mother. “”He was amazing, he had a ton of friends, he was super athletic,” Goss said. “Everybody’s just shocked and appalled. He was such a great guy, and everybody loved him.”

A local prosecutor has brought up charges against the unnamed juvenile. They include the malicious use of telecommunications and using computers to commit a crime.

“Social media just makes everything so unreal,” Goss said. “It’s like detached from reality,” and wants to spread awareness of the dark side of electronic connection.

William Saunders, the superintendent of Marquette Area Public Schools, said in a statement (as reported in the New York Post) that young students need to be careful online.

“Many of us have followed Tysen’s mother on social media and agree wholeheartedly in her statements regarding the dangers of social media,” Saunders said. “After the gut-wrenching loss of a student we ask ourselves, ‘How can we do more?’”