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Friday, August 20: Dangerous Connections

This Friday at 9/8pm Central, Dateline NBC showcases a new deadly danger online in Dangerous Connections. Here, one example of the unbelievable threat on the Internet that you may not yet know about:

Suzy Gonzales, a 19-year-old on a full scholarship to Florida State University, committed suicide in 2003. She was told how to make a deadly cyanide cocktail by someone she met online.

The man who allegedly encouraged and coached Suzy to commit suicide lives in Florida. Not only did he allegedly instruct Suzy to pose as a jeweler in order to obtain cyanide, he openly claims to have proofread her suicide note. He claims he remained in touch with her right up until she went to a motel to kill herself. The Gonzales family says he even put up a memorial website to Suzanne.

At the time, there was no law in Florida against encouraging someone to commit suicide.

After Suzy’s death, her parents began pushing for a federal law that would make it illegal to use the Internet to coach vulnerable people to kill themselves. The federal law promoted by Mike and Mary Gonzales, "The Suzy Gonzales Suicide Prevention Act," would specifically prohibit teaching or encouraging someone to commit suicide if it’s known that person is likely to use such support to take his or her own life.

The Gonzales family says that the proposed legislation would fill gaps left by local assisted suicide laws, which vary widely from one state to another. The bill was introduced in February 2009 and remains stalled in the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.