UPDATE April 9 at 6:55 p.m.
A 13-year-old girl is facing charges in connection with the death of 11-year-old Tysen Benz.
Marquette County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Wiese told The Washington Post that the girl faked her own death in a text conversation with Tysen. Then, within two hours of receiving the message, Tysen hung himself in his closet.
The girl, whose name has not been released, was charged with malicious use of telecommunication service and using a computer to commit a crime. If convicted of those misdemeanor charges, the 13-year-old could face between a year and six months in juvenile detention, The Post reports.
Eleven-year-old Tysen Benz thought his 13-year-old girlfriend committed suicide after social media posts began to circulate, according to the Associated Press. Moments later, Benz's mother found him hanging by the neck in his room in Michigan.
His mother, Katrina Goss, described the incident as "a twisted, sick joke." She added that he appeared just "fine" 40 minutes before she found him.
"I just want it to be exposed and be addressed," Goss said of school bullying in general and cyberbullying in particular. "I don't want it to be ignored."
Benz, using a cellphone he bought without his mother's knowledge, was reading texts and other messages about the faked suicide and decided he would end his life too, his mother said. After seeing the posts, Benz said he was going to kill himself. No one involved in the prank told an adult, she added.
Though the prank occurred outside of school boundaries, the girl whose death was faked as well as friends who took part in the prank had attended the same school as Benz. Because of that, Gross said that the school should have done more to protect her son.
Marquette Area Public Schools Superintendent William Saunders agreed. He said the district has been educating students and parents through its health curriculum, health fairs, and community forums.
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