Mum of boy who killed himself over prank speaks out

Tysen Benz (Katrina Goss / Supplied)
Tysen Benz (Katrina Goss / Supplied)

The mother of a US boy who killed himself after a social media prank has spoken about the day she found his almost lifeless body in a wardrobe.

A 13-year-old girl, believed to be 11-year-old Tysen Benz's girlfriend, is now facing charges over the death.

Tysen's mother, Katrina Goss says March 14 - the day her son died - was much like any other.

He'd come home from his Michigan school that day happy he'd gone to his tutoring session without needing a reminder, she told The Washington Post.

Ms Goss baked him some treats, Tysen went up to his room after dinner.

Around 10pm, Ms Goss went to each of her three sons' rooms to tuck them in but Tysen's door was locked.

She used a key to open the door, but didn't see Tysen in his bed.

"I went in and I thought he was being silly," she told The Washington Post.

"I ended up finding him in the closet... I tried to hurry up and lift him up. I was screaming. I told my oldest son to call 911. My littlest one was bawling."

She said he seemed "fine" 40 minutes before she'd found him.

Paramedics were able resuscitate him, and Tysen spent three weeks in hospital before Ms Goss made the difficult decision to take him off life support. He died on April 4 (local time).

Ms Goss said Tysen had been texting and messaging the girl on Snapchat, though she had been using someone else's account when she told Tysen his girlfriend had died.

Ms Goss said no one told him it was a prank.

"She used her friend's account to make it even more proof that she'd died. He was so innocent, so kind-hearted and so naive that he completely believed her and he took his own life."

Marquette County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Wiese says the case is still under investigation, but says the girl had posed as someone else when she faked her own death during a text conversation with Tysen.

Tysen believed it and killed himself within two hours of the conversation. Mr Wiese couldn't confirm the relationship between the pair.

"The impact that it had on the boy - there's a logical connection," he told The Washington Post.

The teen, who went to the same school as Tysen, has been charged with malicious use of telecommunication service and using a computer to commit a crime.

In a separate interview with the Associated Press, she called the prank a "twisted, sick joke". 

She's now on a mission to raise awareness for schoolyard and cyber bullying.

"I don't want it to be ignored," she said.

 Marquette Area Public Schools Superintendent William Saunders says there have been education efforts for students and parents through its health curriculum and in community forums.

"After the gut-wrenching loss of a student, we ask ourselves, 'How can we do more?'" Saunders said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up in Tysen's memory which has raised more than US$40,000.

In it, Ms Goss remembers her son as "a student, athlete, comedian, friend, brother, charismatic and all around amazing child".

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs immediate help, call Lifeline on 0800 543 354 or the Suicide Prevention Helpline on 0508 828 865.