Michael’s Story

Irvine – Two years ago, muffled crying could be heard from the nearly empty Anteater Parking Structure at the University of California, Irvine. First year UCI transfer student Michael Sur was headed home before midnight — a rarity — after fraternity pledging activities when he heard the crying. His eyes scanned the parking lot until they fell upon a female student huddled on the floor, her shaking body nearly obstructed by her car.

On another night, Sur would have left an hour or two later for his commute home to Fullerton. On another night, he might not have seen the female student. On another night, he might not have been able to prevent her from committing suicide.

Sur knew — he knew that the fellow student, despite being a complete stranger, needed more than just a smile followed by a sympathetic, “Are you okay?”

“I sat with her. And we just sat in silence until she stopped crying and seemed like she was ready to talk,” Sur shrugged.

Sur discovered the young woman had recently lost her older brother to cancer, and the absence of her beloved friend and sibling left her lonely and scared of the world. Grateful for the stranger’s courage to share her story, Sur decided to share his.

“I had a really toxic relationship with an ex-girlfriend,” said Sur. “We would always fight, and it didn’t matter who was right or wrong, it just got really bad. It got to the point where I had my first attempt at, you know …” He trailed off, his lips unable to form the word “suicide.”

“The only reason I recovered was because of my mom. She told me, ‘Don’t be selfish.’ And eventually I started to understand that taking my life would have hurt the people around me more than it would have solved my own pain.”

An hour later, the two strangers parted ways, the memory no longer at the forefront of Sur’s mind. But almost a month later, during the middle of finals week in spring 2013, Sur was reminded of the night he helped save someone’s life.

A post on the “UCI Secrets 2” page read: “Ever since that conversation, I’ve realized that life is precious and should be lived out to it’s (sic) fullest. Yes, I did lose my brother, but I know now that he would have wanted me to the best I can as cliché as that sounds … So Michael, if you ever see this I wish you the best in life as you’ve saved mine.”

The Facebook page, which allowed students to anonymously submit messages ranging from love confessions to depraved drunken escapades, garnered almost 400 “likes” for the thank you message to Sur. The original post was shared by dozens of his friends, acquaintances and complete strangers.

A student from California State University, Long Beach commented, “Most people would walk away and be too scared to approach a crying stranger like that, but you (Sur) didn’t. Thank you for saving that person’s life. Amazing.”

Almost one year later, Michael is surprised that people still remember that thank you message. The attention around what he did still astonishes him.

“I mean yeah, I didn’t know who she was, I didn’t know what she could have done to me, but I had faith in humanity,” said Sur. “If it was me who was crying in that parking lot, I would have wanted someone to do the same for me as I did for her.”