I don’t usually do TWs, but this one is dumb enough to merit them: suicide, staggeringly insensitive stupidity.

Sheryl Sandberg’s husband Dave Goldberg (she of Facebook and Lean In fame, he of Survey Monkey) died the other day. According to the Times, he died of head trauma while exercising at a resort in Mexico. That was reported today, which means that, if one only gets one’s news from the Times, one couldn’t have known exactly how he died (even though it’s not really any of one’s business unless the family chooses to disclose, in my opinion, but I can see the merits of other sides).

So you have a noted person who died, and the initial reports just say that he died, without giving every detail, and no cause of death. So what’s a responsible, intelligent person to do? If you’re writer and start-up person Penelope Trunk, you write a blog post called, and I quote, “Dave Goldberg’s Cause of Death? I Think It’s Suicide.”

But wait, you’re saying, that seems really short-sighted. But that’s because you don’t understand logic:

If the family does not want to talk about the cause of death, it seems that the most logical thing to do would be to announce some sort of vague cause that would stop people from asking questions. But surely the family knows there will be questions if they say nothing. Dave and Sheryl are the most vocal couple on the planet about how to have a dual-career marriage, and one half of that marriage is gone. Of course people will ask questions. The best way to stop the questions is to give a vague, boring cause of death.


So the only explanation I can see for being totally quiet on this topic is that he killed himself.

Sound reasoning. But why would an obviously successful, ostensibly well-liked person kill himself?


Why is this important? Why do I get to ask the personally invasive question about his death?

Because Sheryl Sandberg, who was married to him, is not only Facebook’s COO, but she is also the author of the book Lean In. That book tells women that they should have a career like Sheryl’s. And, most significantly for this post, that women should pick a spouse like Dave.


Sheryl has said over and over again that it is because of her spouse that she is able to Lean In (which, loosely translated, means work insanely long hours and have kids and have a great marriage).


I don’t have any evidence that it was a suicide. All I have is someone notable died and no one is saying how. And however Sheryl’s husband died is news, since she has been news for three years telling women their husband is instrumental into the process of Leaning In.


But really, I just want to know how Dave died. Because I think he killed himself. And if he did, this might tells us a lot about what happens when both people in marriage Lean In.

You’re probably confused, but that’s because you don’t have deep thoughts. Let me spell it out for you: Sheryl Sandberg wrote a book about leaning in, and therefore her husband killed himself. Presumably he wouldn’t have killed himself had she not written a book talking about how supportive her husband was.


I’m not sure how the revelation that he didn’t actually kill himself will affect the writer and her commenters (many of whom seem on board, castigating both the mainstream media for refusing to write about what obviously happened and women who, like Sheryl Sandberg, are apparently driving their men to an early grave.

ETA: Her website offers career coaching, which much be a real treat.