Michael Bryan was supposed to spend the evening of Feb. 26 with his close friend Ruthann Clawson, and she texted him during the day about their plans, she tells Entertainment Tonight.
But at 9:23 p.m., Clawson got this reply: "There is a letter for you on my bed." She asked him who wrote it and tried to call, but got no answer – so she went to his apartment. Bryan's roommate let her in.
She found and read the letter and then looked over the balcony. She saw her friend lying there, motionless.
"He wanted me to tell his family that he loves them, that he loves each and every one of them, because he was scared to do it himself," Clawson says.
Bryan told Clawson that he committed suicide because he wanted to be at peace – but he wanted her to live a long and happy life.
"I want people to remember him as the nicest person I've ever met," she says.
A family friend tells PEOPLE, “Marie knew Michael was troubled, but I don’t think she ever thought he would take his life."