By Amy Ver Beek

This isn’t your typical, post that has sunshine and rainbows. This is a painfully honest post that will probably make you feel uncomfortable. And I’m writing it unapologetically.

Things I would like people to know about a mom that lost her son to suicide 8 months ago:

No, I’m not okay. I feel like I must hold it together for everyone, for my husband, children, work, etc. and some days it feels like an insurmountable amount of pressure. Some days I skim by, and some days I suck at it. I need grace on the days I fail. Most days I feel a huge accomplishment just getting out of bed.

Now, since you’re thinking, “Wow, she needs help!” You’re right. I do need help and not afraid to say it. Me, along with everyone else in my family is in counseling right now. But it doesn’t make it better right away. Sometimes it makes it worse because it forces me to deal with the pain.

Just because I smile, laugh, and don’t cry all day long doesn’t mean I’m doing well. I have to keep it together until I’m around people I can trust. And these days, there’s not that many.

I have guilt every single day of my life. I feel guilty that I couldn’t save my son. I feel guilty that right now I can’t give  to my other kids. I feel guilty when I stay in bed with depression, and I feel guilty when I try and go out to have a good time to get my mind off things.

Please stop telling me time will make it better. I know you’re trying to help, but right now time has made things worse. Life goes on for everyone else, but we’re still stuck in the torment that Max is never coming back. I must watch my husband and kids face mental anguish all the while feeling like I have to fix it , because that’s what Mom’s do. But I can’t.

There’s no place I can go where I don’t think about things like “We’re having Max’s favorite food for dinner”, “He would have loved to have gone on this trip with us”, “Oh, there’s the high school golf team, he was supposed to be on that team”, “That kid has hair just like Max’s”.

Please stop saying things like “It must have been God’s will to take Max when he did”. That doesn’t help because I’m still struggling with the reason why God allowed a 14 year old boy to do this to himself in the first place. There will never be an answer to this question.

I don’t need advice on what you would do in my situation. You may think you know how you’d handle the same scenario, but you don’t. There’s very few people that can give me advice on this and it’s the people in my “Moms of Suicide” group. Others can keep their judgement and opinions to themselves.

Specifically to a lot of my fellow West Michiganders, whose main concern is keeping up appearances, I’d like to say, “Bless your heart”.  I’m sorry, not sorry that Max’s death has made you uncomfortable and embarrassed. But not talking about the horrific results of suicide doesn’t make it stop happening. I beg of you, please stop being ashamed to talk about mental health.

And for those moms out there struggling, for whatever reason, I SEE YOU and will leave you with this quote. “Some days she’s a warrior. Some days she’s a broken mess. Most days she’s a bit of both, but everyday she’s there. Standing. Fighting. Trying”.

Coming in 2024


Memento Vivere

"Remember to Live" 

Memoir by Dustin Ver Beek

A gut-wrenching wild ride of twists and turns.  This is my life. 

Dear Max,

On this three month anniversary of your death, we painfully pause. Stopping makes it all real. Instantly, we're back to the day where three officers knocked on our door to tell us you had crashed. They told us with whitish-green faces that our son had been killed in a crash/fire. Darkness. Every fabric, every nerve inverted within itself. We left our bodies as we held each other screaming at God. Insides turned outward in an agony that can only be described as a living hell. Everything flipped in an instant.

A few hours later, in the fog, we received a random text from some girl claiming to be your girlfriend. You shared your plan with her to take the Jeep and crash it. Word spread for hours online, but did not get to an adult. We find your “I'm sorry” note scratched on a note pad. We find out that you were given bottles of straight vodka from a classmate a few days before.

The next week brought more police, discoveries and a blackout period. We find your hidden old decommissioned phone with Internet access. Funeral. We could not see your body as you were too badly burned. You arrive in a little box. Please know this causes an element of pain that taunts our souls. Anger. Rage. Hate. All rolled into one dose of our new reality. This reality we would not wish on our worst enemy.

Cyberbullies were making fun of you online prior to your death. We confirmed that you saw these posts on your phone. We have screen shots of some of these. Many of the people wised up and deleted them before law enforcement could capture them. Since these posts are mainly deleted now, people have moved on. Nothing happened to any of them.

As of today, there have not been any charges filled for your juvenile alcohol supplier. There is no open investigation at your school. We're trying to make change in your honor. Outside drinks are still allowed into Zeeland Public School events. Perhaps your death did not matter to everyone. Perhaps your death is a clear condemnation of our “perfect” suburbia. The status of human kindness is on trial.

We write this letter as a public promise to you. We will continue to drive change in your name. No more kids need to cause the hurt that you caused us and your family. We are broken. We are not-fixable. Why would you do this?


For the kids reading, for the love of God, if someone says they're planning to kill themselves, please call 988 and tell a trusted adult immediately. This is not a joking matter.

“Christmas in Heaven”

Original art by Dustin Ver Beek. Buy now and help end teen suicide in West Michigan. 

Score 1 for us



Facebook Censors appear to have relented from black listing this website address. Suicide is a touchy subject according to Facebook. 

Score 1 for the little people. 

Facebook Censors Suicide. So sad

Any of our Facebook posts with links back to Maxwell's website are being censored (removed). Shame on Facebook. Our non-profit suicide prevention ministry is being blocked by Facebook. Let that sink in. Why would this content be censored? 

It's like they want to erase him. 

From: Amy Ver Beek
October 16, 2023

PUBLIC Address to Zeeland Public School Board

Hi, I’m Amy Ver Beek, Max Ver Beek’s Mom. My emotions want me to spend this time telling you how upset we have been about the lack of response and change from ZPS, but this isn’t about us. We can’t bring Max back and there will be a part of our hearts that will be missing, forever. But I want to take this time to promote change so no other family has to experience the horrific pain that we have. 

Since I only have 5 minutes, I would like to focus on a ZPS student providing Max several bottles of Vodka. I want to do this because if it wasn’t for him being drunk, he wouldn’t have thrown up all over himself and others in the student section, and then no one would have taken videos of him and uploaded them to social media, and then he wouldn’t have had to feel such shame and degradation, that he thought the only solution was suicide. 

We were told, by a police officer, that a student admitted to providing Max the Vodka and also admitted to getting it from her parents. These are facts, not rumors, facts. But what he also told us is “This is not the first time she has done something like this.” This would mean that this is AT LEAST a second offense. 

Lessons are learned by consequences and I’m sorry, but a 5 day suspension for a second offense of providing alcohol to students is nowhere near the proper consequence. Policy 5610 states that suspensions and expulsions are based on a number of factors of one that states, “whether the violation committed by the student threatened the safety of any student” Her actions not only threatened his safety, but ultimately contributed to my son’s death. 

We were told that the Vodka provided by this student was at least 6 water bottles full. (Show water bottle) This is a 17 oz. water bottle. One shot of Vodka equals 1.5 oz. That means this bottle would contain 11 shots of Vodka. If one of these water bottles were consumed over a 2 hour period, in a student with a similar weight as Max, their BAC would be 4 times over the legal limit and potentially lethal. That means the 6 water bottles that were provided by this student could have killed 6 students. 

But, she was also allowed to keep attending games and in fact was at the very next home game as if nothing had ever happened. Do you realize the message that sends? It sends other students the message that someone who provided alcohol to another student, which subsequently contributed to his death, gets away with a tiny slap on the wrist. That message simply says, “Oh it’s no big deal, let’s just keep doing it.”

Do you all realize that Zeeland’s policy, for drugs/alcohol prevention hasn’t been updated in 12 years and is so vague that administration can come up with any discipline they want and it can be as lenient as a one day suspension. I’m pleading with you that policy 5530 be changed with more clear-cut, harsher consequences. This way there can be no bias for families of wealth and status. It shouldn’t matter how much money a student’s family donates to the district, every student should have the same punishment. We’ve heard from people all over the country say their school policies are clear, you distribute alcohol or drugs to others, you get expelled, No questions asked. 

I am also pleading with you to change policy 9160, which is in regards to Public attendance to school events, to not only state “No alcoholic beverage be possessed, consumed, or distributed on any school district premises”, but to also state no backpacks or outside drinks be allowed into school events. 

Please don’t let our son’s death be in vain. Please make changes to your policy to prevent this from happening again. 

From: Dustin Ver Beek
October 16, 2023

PUBLIC Address to Zeeland Public School Board

My name is Dustin Ver Beek, you may know me as Max's dad. 

First, I want to thank you for your service to our community. You are servants of our community serving and protecting our children...a noble pursuit indeed. 

I am hereby publicly commending Jessica Knoth and Travis Spaman for their care the weekend Max died. We stood with them in agreement that this tragedy should and must be thoroughly analyzed. We were clear we wanted accountability for all those students involved. 

I would like to thank Zeeland Public Schools, for offering Samantha the Winning at Home counseling. This is a gift and I sincerely thank you on behalf of my family. 

I also thank the community who have embraced us in our most critical hour. We thank you all. 


Some chose to be silent which speaks volumes. 

In the midst of a terrible tragedy, we stand before you today asking that you listen to a different point of view. A point of view of a guy who knows a lot by experience. I lack a PHD or Masters Degree, but what I can tell you is I've been dealt more than my fair share of stormy seas. Pain is my teacher. My PHD comes from years of adversity and trials. 

Allow me a moment to school the school.

Max inadvertently started a movement when he died; a movement for kids that were bullied, badgered and laughed at in school. It's a movement of standing up for the little guy. It's time we look at what is causing death. It's a time where people re-evaluate what foundations we stand upon or hide behind. 

Societal failures begin in the home. We know that. We as parents need to WAKE UP. We are raising little bullies who only find self-worth in social media image. Brave behind a device, but too scared to say it in person. Hiding behind handle names, our children are taunting one another to death. Social media is destroying our culture from within, which bleeds into our school systems creating cancerous tumors. Apathy abounds. How many more kids need to die before we wake up? 

Highly collaborated foreign controlled propaganda is spewed into our kids daily. Porn, trafficking, suicide, bullying, prank campaigns designed at hurting others. Social Media algorithms are destroying our society. I stand before you today to tell you that we will be launching a media blitz over the next 12 months educating whomever will listen about the dangers of social media. Snapchat, TicToc. How much more are we going to put up with? 

We can each do our part by doing the right thing now. It's up to the people in this room to honor Max and honor my new personal mission: Expose TicTok and Snapchat for the deadly tools that they are. We have to be 18 to buy a gun or gamble. 21 to buy alcohol. Why do we allow social media at 13? 

Most every day, we trust our children in your care. You often see them more than we do. So, we hand the kids over to a place that is full of cancer and expect them to turn out okay. Shame on us for burying our heads in the sand.

Enough is enough. 

So what am I specifically asking for? I am formally asking that the school suspend future bullies for a period no less than 10 days. Today, you call home to the parents and it's only a minor infraction. Any instances of bullying another student for any reason should equal 10 days suspension. Other districts do this. Tolerance sends a huge message to teens. Let's step it up for our kids. 10 days. For the other Max's out there. Don't we owe that to them? Bullies = 10 days off

No more external drinks at sporting events. This should have been enacted at the following game. This is not asking a lot. 

As we launch our new nonprofit we hope that Zeeland Public Schools will come along side us and enact the changes it so desperately needs. 

Thank you for your time.

Open Letter to ZPS School Board

October 9, 2023

View PDF of letter. Requires Adobe. 

Educating Teens About Suicide

Maxwell Ver Beek

Maxwell "Max" Ver Beek, age 14, completed suicide on September 1, 2023. He was a freshman at Zeeland West High School. It was his first week of school. 

Max was given a large amount of vodka concealed in several water bottles from a peer. He quickly consumed this vodka at the first school football game of the year. His mind was clouded and severely under the influence. He threw up on himself and several people in the student section. Students taunted him by posting pictures and videos on social media. He was humiliated.

Max shared his suicide plan with his girlfriend at the game. No adult was warned. The online bullying ramped up.   

While we slept, Max took my black Jeep Wrangler and drove it over 100+ miles per hour into a large tree. The wreck caused an explosion and subsequent fire. Max most likely died instantly at around 6:15 AM, September 1. 

His behavior was extremely uncharacteristic of him. We are confident that his irrational decision would not have happened without him being intoxicated. 

This is Max's story and our new life mission. 

Maxwell "Max" Ver Beek Be Still

Maxwell "Max" 
Ver Beek

October 15, 2008 — September 1, 2023

Maxwell “Max” Ver Beek, 14, of Holland , Michigan passed away unexpectedly on Friday, September 1, 2023.

Max was born October 15, 2008, the son of Dustin and Lindy (Vander Zwaag) Ver Beek and Amy Ver Beek. He was the twin brother of Samantha Ver Beek and also the loving brother to Brooklyn Ver Beek, Isaac Carlson and Levi Carlson. He was the grandson of Dale Ver Beek, Melvin and Lois Vander Zwaag, and Jerry and Olivia Wilson. Max was preceded in death by his Mother Lindy in 2012 and we know she welcomed him with overwhelming joy when he arrived to meet her in Heaven.

Max was a gentle, sweet, loving young man. He loved playing video games, hanging out with his friends at the Sperry Movie House and Hopcat restaurant. His favorite food was barbeque wings and a big ole’ rack of ribs. He took pride in his hoodie and tennis shoe collection. Never will there ever be someone with better hair than Max, and he knew it. He loved playing basketball and golf. He was a freshman at Zeeland West High School and along with his family, a member of The Foundry Church in Zeeland.

A private memorial service will be held at the Yntema Funeral Home in Zeeland.

In lieu of memorial contributions, please take your family out and do something fun in honor of Max.









Ethan, Max and Hudson

Action Plans - What to do

We are creating a wide range of educational resources and programs to help teens understand and navigate mental health issues.

Hudson Ver Beek and Maxwell Ver Beek

teen education

We are here to provide guidance and support to teens, their families, and educators.

Community involvement

We will engage with communities to foster a supportive environment that promotes mental well-being and suicide prevention.

Max Ver Beek
Max Ver Beek napping
Caiden, Max and Hudson
Max Ver Beek

this is About Max

Maxwell "Max"  Ver Beek was born on October 15, 2008. He is a twin brother to Samantha Ver Beek.  He was always the laid back child since birth. Max was a sweet, loving boy. He made us proud. 

Amy Ver Beek and Max

he loved god

October, 2008

Maxwell Ver Beek Accident scene photo

cherished Memories

Maxwell was a sweet and kind soul who loved basketball. golf and video gaming.  


Click an image to engage lightbox. 

Larry Zuverink

Our brother-in-law, sent us this inspiration in the midst our darkest grief. 

My best friend was in India when Max died.

The guys behind lifted my family up. in prayer. 

AI version of a sympathy bouquet we received. 

Flying Commas


God Moments in the midst of OUR despair


Max as a frog

The week before Max died, there was a bright green frog outside of his window. We had never seen one on our property the five years we lived in this house. Then a couple days after he died, we went out on our deck and saw this frog sitting next to our tissues. So now we call them Maxy frogs. They've been back to visit since then in the same area. 

Max Ver Beek frog text


Out-of-this-world "commas" that resembled this flying through the air in the middle of the night.


Messages from India


Messages from India


Conversations and prayers from all over the world. Beautiful moments. 

4 AM, September 2, 2023

4 am Ottogan Street


A tapestry of moments orchestrated by God





Pause, but keep going.

Suicide prevention in teens involves various strategies:

1. Open Communication: Maintain open and non-judgmental communication with teens. Encourage them to express their feelings and concerns.

2. Be Supportive: Offer emotional support and let them know you care. Show empathy and understanding.

3. Recognize Warning Signs: Be aware of signs like withdrawal, changes in behavior, or talk of hopelessness. Take these signs seriously.

4. Professional Help: If you suspect a teen is at risk, seek professional help immediately. Contact a mental health provider or a crisis hotline.

5. Limit Access to Means: Reduce access to lethal means such as alcohol, firearms or medications.

6. Promote Resilience: Encourage teens to develop coping skills, problem-solving abilities, and resilience.

7. Raise Awareness: Educate yourself and others about the issue of teen suicide to reduce stigma.

8. Peer Support: Encourage teens to connect with supportive friends or participate in support groups.

9. School Involvement: Schools can play a role in suicide prevention by implementing awareness programs and providing access to counselors.

10. Know Resources: Familiarize yourself with crisis helplines like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273 TALK) or dial 988.

Remember, if you suspect immediate danger, seek help from a mental health professional or crisis intervention service.

Wreath placed at crash site

Wreath purchased by Max's friends placed at crash site on September 20, 2023. 

Max Ver Beek Cross

“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.” 

Maxwell VerBeek
Max VerBeek

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Get in touch with us

Please contact us using the information below. 

If you or someone you know is struggling, please call 988

Telephone: 616-836-8048


Address: 4482 Ottogan Street

Holland, Michigan 49423

United States

Max having a moment in 2013

Max Ver Beek

Typical boy horsing around

Max Ver Beek

Beautiful Eyes

Max resembled his birth mother, Lindy (Vander Zwaag) Ver Beek. Lindy passed away from breast cancer in 2012. 

Read Lindy's story

Max was legally adopted by Amy Wilson Ver Beek in August, 2019.

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