Dave Goldberg cause of death? I think it’s suicide

First of all, let me say that I feel really bad for everyone who is losing Dave Goldberg in their life. I feel bad that he will not get to see his two kids grow up. His death is very sad. I have not had a spouse die or a parent die and I’m sure the experience is more awful than I could even imagine.

Still. I can’t help but wonder how he died. It is completely standard in journalism to report the cause of death when the announcement is made. After the initial, cursory announcement of death, major publications frequently run an obituary when a famous person dies, yet the Wall St. Journal and the New York Times ran formal obituaries and still mention nothing of the cause of death.

If there were suspicion of murder, there would be a police report.

If there were some sort of complicated condition that Dave kept a secret, the death announcement could follow a time-honored tradition of being vague and uninformative, like saying “heart condition” or “muscular complication” or even “degenerative disease”.

Let’s say he has a terrible disease, like the one in Still Alice, where he will die early and so will his children. And let’s say his children do not know and the family has chosen not to tell them. Fine. The announcement could use that same, vague language.

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.

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 want to know, how can someone Lean In as a single parent? I wonder how someone will Lean In when there is no other parent to comfort a sad child.

If this sounds spiteful and ugly it is. But I think it is also appropriate, and who else would say it besides me?

Most people have something in their life that prevents them from leaning in. I don’t actually even think this is a gender thing. I coach hundreds of men whose earning power plateaus because they won’t relocate or they won’t work weekends, or they want to be home for spring break. It’s not that we are victims of life, it’s that at some point in most of our lives there comes a time when something else is more important than Leaning In.

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.

Update: A few hours after I published this post news outlets started reporting various other causes of death. Here is my response to those reports: Do we still have to lean in if Dave Goldberg is dead?

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  1. Koama
    Koama says:

    It’s not just that the original obits in some major media sources, like NYT, didn’t specify a cause…..it’s that they didn’t even discuss it. They intentionally ignored the topic. Who does that? The writers and editors at NYT and other news sources know that every single reader is thinking “how?” and they didn’t even address the question, as if they didn’t care. Who’s got that kind of influence over multiple news organizations?

    The same goes for the location. “Overseas” is intentionally vague.

    Fishy as f.

    • connie davis
      connie davis says:

      Exactly. The mainstream media has slavishly followed the Sandberg script. No questions asked. Like who what when where why. Where’s the body? When did it happen? What country “abroad” were they visiting? When is the funeral? How did she found out her lean-in hubby was dead? And on and on. These so called journalists are an embarrassment. Bravo Penelope Trunk!

    • bob
      bob says:

      The tech editor at the NYT is a woman who leans in. The writers of these stories are women who lean in. I’m sure the same goes for the reporters and editors at the WSJ. They desperately want to believe the fantasy spelled out in the best seller: you can have everything if you just lean in. (And of course this is false because there are only 500 CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. And most jobs are menial. )

      Dave has destroyed the narrative, one way or another.

    • Maturity much?
      Maturity much? says:

      Mon, 5/4/15 – 3:45 EST

      You people need to both grow up and get a life! You are complete nothings…that you have to spin all of this stupid, baseless gossip. I hope none of you are raising children.

      Did it ever occur to you that the cause of death wasn’t give because THEY DIDN’T KNOW WHAT IT WAS?

      Oh right, sure….the guy went on vacation to Mexico to commit suicide. Unbelieveable.

      And, you Penelope, you should be ashamed of yourself. But, no doubt, you thrilled with your click rate on this story. Go rot somewhere.

      • Kk
        Kk says:

        Nice to know I’m not the only one seeing evil here. Pure, jealousy and evil. A MAN; someone’s son, father, husband, brother died and all most people want to do is tear he and his family down. It’s a pathetic attempt at justifying their own unhappiness.

        • Rick
          Rick says:

          Sorry, but no. When a public figure dies via mysterious circumstance, people are not evil scumbags to want to know more.

          • Emily
            Emily says:

            Actually, Rick, people who want to know more about a famous person’s death are in fact evil scumbags. The public natures of their lives don’t necessarily mean that their deaths should be public spectacle…unless you’re an evil scumbag.

            SPECULATING on the cause of a famous person’s death is especially scumbaggy. I realize that Penelope is desperately crusading to create a nation of SAHMs, but she is in fact a scumbag for speculating on a death in this manner. It takes a major asshole to somebody else’s death as a way to promote your own personal agenda.

            Sorry, Rick. Hate the burst that little bubble of yours.

      • laura
        laura says:

        Thank you for your sane comments…many of the other comments on this blog do not fall anywhere near “sane’. What a disguesting piece–shameful.

        • Sean
          Sean says:

          Wow, look at Team Woman jump right into her defense. “It can’t be suicide and even thinking that it might be is just badthink cuz it gives me feelbads.”

          • Judith Ann
            Judith Ann says:

            Everyone is wrong here. He was in Mexico by himself! Sandberg was not with him. Going to Mexico is dangerous, especially if you have a Billionaire all alone; know for kidnappers gone wild. He probably refused to give them money, they finally got the money and then killed him. Or Sandberg had wanted out of the marriage and paid someone to off him and exited “stage left”.
            I think it was the Cartels, by the wound…no way on the treadmill idiots.

        • Susan Jimenez
          Susan Jimenez says:

          agreed. 1. Using this person’s death to push forward your own agenda says a lot about you. 2. Death in another country can be complicated; who knows what circumstances occurred. Exactly as these before me have said: sometimes, it takes time to know the cause of death – and an autopsy doesn’t happen immediately. In fact, even in our country, some of the autopsy results (such as the tests for toxins, take months to complete). 3. Just because a person doesn’t have a known medical illness doesn’t mean they couldn’t have died of a cardiovascular event such as an aneurysm or a heart attack. 4. Please hold your tongue and find some other way to make yourself notorious.

      • Barbara Griffith
        Barbara Griffith says:

        I was stunned when a friend sent me a link to this blog. “Sooooo classy…” was her comment. Who is this woman named Penelope Trunk? I wondered. Who could be so evil as to make uninformed, catty, despicable comments about the death of someone’s spouse? “Sooooo crazy….” I responded to my friend. What I should have said was “So sad.”

    • Bill Hogan
      Bill Hogan says:

      They didn’t address it because THEY DIDN’T KNOW. And rather than traffic in baseless, hateful and totally unfounded speculation they chose to wait.

      Amazed you are still defending this horrible, thoughtless and mean-spirited blogger. I’m sure she’s enjoying the traffic she’s getting, but I don’t think she’ll enjoy her new reputation.

      • JO
        JO says:

        Penelope Your article should have been titled I wish it was suicide. to justify your worthless existence.
        You’re pathetic!! Lean in and get a life. You wish you could have a great life however can only raise yourself up by trying to bring someone else’s down. Real life doesn’t work that way and hopefully someday you find that out!!!

        • David Zaikin
          David Zaikin says:

          Cant believe miserable Penelope blog does exist and creates so much misery . It feels the space between the toilet and garbage bags .

        • Bookish Jen
          Bookish Jen says:

          Penelope-your amount of empathy, kindness, thoughtfulness, generosity, compassion, and concern for others wouldn’t fill a Vera Bradley make-up bag. You are the worst thing to happen to MY state of Wisconsin since Governor Scott Walker got elected.

          You are the epitome of true evil, and the TV show “Criminal Minds” should base and unsub on you!!!!

    • margaux
      margaux says:

      I suspect murder. His head was cracked open like a watermelon, come on! And this happened in Mexico, land of corruption and filth. An ex-boyfriend’s father died there many, many years ago of a drug overdose. The ex’s family paid a pretty penny to have the death certificate state heart attack instead of drug OD so it wouldn’t affect the life insurance benefits the family was counting on.
      Surely the gym Dave was at had surveillance videos, that would show the truth.

  2. Koama
    Koama says:

    I just saw a newer NYT obit that did say the cause wasn’t disclosed.

    The first versions of obits didn’t address the topic which was goddamn odd.

  3. narmno
    narmno says:

    This really improved my opinion of Penelope Trunk. Trunk was brave enough to not kiss Sandberg’s ass like the rest of the media.

    • Kaitlyn Kramer
      Kaitlyn Kramer says:


      I’m not even a feminist, and I think the whole “Lean In” movement has set women back farther than even where they started.

      It’s finally okay for a woman to want to stay home with kids, and then here comes Sheryl, telling them that’s not enough: they need a big career, too.

      But the detriment is not just limited to women with kids; it specifically belittles women who make the conscious decision to NOT have kids in order to have a big career. She’s basically calling them underachievers.

      Women who choose having a career over having children are making a very hard (and not very popular) choice. But being a responsible grown-up is all about making hard choices and it’s childish to pretend otherwise.

      • Rachel
        Rachel says:

        “Its finally okay for women to stay home with the kids” ?!?

        It has ALWAYS been okay for women to stay home with the kids. That has been the tradition forever. To me, it feels like we might be getting to a point where its acceptable to go to work when you have small kids, but still preferred that the mom stays home. But we just got here. I like it here, women have more options.

      • Robbie Orth
        Robbie Orth says:

        The poor woman just lost the love of her life and her partner. She deserves the respect to handle this any way she sees fit without snide comments, judgement and commentary fit for junior high girls. Shame on all of you.

        • Ob
          Ob says:

          I’d like to point out the possibility that he was *miserable* because he was married to Sheryl Sandberg.

          If anyone is going to try and make the case that men prefer career women, go for it. I’ll just be here laughing at the silliness coming out of your mouth.

          I’d say its suicide alright. And I’m going to bet that this narcissistic princess isn’t saying so because of how it will reflect on *her*.

          Oh and if this offends you, then the Internet is probably not the best place for you.

          • CMP
            CMP says:

            Wow, you all are tasteless and class-less. The New York Times reports that he died while exercising.

            If he had died by suicide, raising that question would have been okay, the way that many of you, including this is article and many of the comments here show, is completely rude, insensitive, and mean-spirited. You are also using it as an excuse to bash Sheryl. Regardless of your feelings towards Sheryl, her husband died, and you all should be ashamed of yourself for being so baseless and tacky in the way you talk about this: have you no care or concern for others?

          • Human with feelings
            Human with feelings says:

            Sorry, no, he died while exercising. You are wrong. Thanks for playing.

            You can take consolation in the fact that scores of other people who tried to guess were wrong too, including the original author of this blog post, who has now lost credibility. Because that’s what happens quite often when you just come up with random ideas without having any information.

            Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. ~Winston Churchill

          • Stephka Brown
            Stephka Brown says:

            I run a business and Im getting married, to a man. (not that it matters if it was a female or male).

            I love what I do and my man loves that Im a career driven woman. Yes, he’d prefer I was home before 11pm sometimes and we could have more time together but because Im directly responsible for our employees wellbeing and driving the company in a certain direction he respects and acknowledges my career.

            Even better he’s the best help ever! He delivers, he supports, he does anything he can to help and I do likewise for his career.

            Im so sorry you think otherwise but I can only surmise that you live a sheltered or spoiled life doing dick all.

            Im not offended at your statement, just hate how the internet allows people like you to connect to someone like me. In the past I’d never have to interact with people of your intelligence and social circle. The internet makes it too simple for people like you to voice your opinion.

            Ugh I feel stupider just re reading your post. Must. go. read. an. actual. book. Must get off the internet and stop reading stupid shit like Penelope, OB & Kaitlyn’s post.

        • ProfKathyB
          ProfKathyB says:

          When you are so very vocal and a public figure you lose the ability to all of a sudden choose to become Private. If it was suicide why is she hiding it? If it was something else why hide that? She’s very good at telling others what to do and how to do it – she needs a dose of honesty herself.

      • Stephka Brown
        Stephka Brown says:

        Kaitlyn you are right, there are more women who stay home and child rear vs out in the workforce. However what support does a woman who stays home to child rear need vs a woman who has children & a career?

        Lean in is about encouraging ambition because having a child is not the be all end all of being a woman. I run a business and plan on having children. I have employees from the age of 18 to 62. Having a few kids will be very fulfilling but running a business where I get to create an environment for my employees to be productive, making a living, fulfill their dreams and bond is EXTREMELY fulfilling. Instead of helping rear a few kids, I have the potential to help, inspire, impact whole families. Running a business creates opportunities for dozens of people vs just my child.

        Its an honour to be a part of my employees wellbeing and help them achieve their goals.

        I’d like to have children but if I dont I dont mind. Running a business is like raising children, most businesses require 24/7 attention, fires and situations happen all the time at any hour of any day, clients can be VERY fussy and the change of trends, govt regulations and economics can be extremely stressful and overwhelming. Emails comes in at the hundreds and opportunities rise and fall at any moments notice.

        As a woman who runs a company and has employees working with her thats the message, that we should continue to strive and be better. It’s so hard sometimes and sometimes I wish I could just have a normal 9-5 or be a stay at home but we need more female entrepreneurs or bosses.

        Traditional media taught me it’s weird to have a woman in the workplace. Growing up (in the 90’s) my mother was one of the few who also worked as a professional. We got our bus rerouted so we’d get dropped off at her clinic, so she could work until 7 or 8pm every night. We didnt mind but this was also not normal.

        Why shouldnt we encourage women to strive for more? Why all the hate?

        • SMH
          SMH says:

          “However what support does a woman who stays home to child rear need vs a woman who has children & a career?”

          Maybe I don’t understand your question, but it sounds as though you’re saying women who stay home with kids don’t need a support system as much as women who work and have kids?

          If so, that’s garbage. Everyone needs a support system. A huge part of the problem is the refusal of women to grant validity to other women’s choices. You sound a lot like you’re trying to say what you do is better and more important that what a person does raising kids. I might suggest that sounds about as obnoxious as the person who insinuates the opposite.

          • James Aguilis
            James Aguilis says:

            A huge part of the problem is the refusal of women to grant validity to other women’s choices. You sound a lot like you’re trying to say what you do is better and more important that what a person does raising kids.

            As the secondary income-earner to a “breadwinner” wife (always thought the “breadwin” term was dumb), I notice quite the opposite. I never see working women bombarding Mommy Bloggers with their sanctimony, and I never see childfree couples dropping by parenting forums to casually mention “Having kids was a dumb mistake.”

            But when it comes to certain types of housewives (many of whom disprove their crowing about “the hardest job in the world” by racking up an astonishing number of posts online at all times of day and night), ignoring working women seems to just NOT be an option. These housewives troll all manner of career advice forums, book reviews on career, and comment sections on those rare articles where people who don’t have children tell their stories and shamelessly refuse to admit to feelings of longing or an incomplete life that aren’t there. The housewives’ complaints are all of a piece: no one cares about them, it’s “unfair” that books EXPLICITLY written about CAREERS are not addressed to them, and the strangest comment of all: the women who are too busy working to give a flip about their existence are not “supporting their choices.”

            After observing this behavior for a number of years on the “new” Internet, where everyone is connected and can spew the first thought out of his mouth, regardless of its quality or relevance, I’ve concluded that those disgruntled housewives’ true complaint is that no one is admiring them or paying attention to them to the degree they feel they deserve. Ironic, that, since working women, particularly those in male-dominated fields like my wife, and doubly so if breadwinners, continue to receive heaps of scorn from the public at large, wholly unprovoked. Yet somehow, they manage to continue working, often without praise or thanks that these disgruntled housewives feel they deserve in large quantities for staying home.

            Since there is clearly an emotional need among this particular type of housewife for praise and accolades, the responsibility is on them to provide it for themselves and others. There is already a heap of self-congratulatory drivel on the internet for “proper” women who do the “ladylike” thing and stay home, but evidently, this is not enough for some. Since accolades and admiration are a requisite for these women to feel valued, they should create their “You go, girl!” content, be it books, magazines, or whatever, themselves, for each other. Instead, they expect women who are too busy working to give a dog’s hind what they did at home today to shower them with praise.

            Ridiculous, and petulant to boot, particularly given the large percentage of housewives who criticize working women endlessly…why demand support and praise from people you clearly despise? You, and you alone are responsible for your own self-worth, and it is on you to fix it if you find it wanting. Not on those of us, male and female, who are too busy working to give a hang what you did at home today.

  4. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    I was with you until the last sentence. Penelope. You are likely right about what happened. If so, I hope Sandberg will ultimately opt for honesty and contribute to a long-overdue national conversation about abolishing the stigma associated with depression. But to label a possible suicide as the consequence of Leaning In is too much. Doing so demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of depression, which is immune to the best, most perfect, outside circumstances.

    • Ian
      Ian says:

      i don’t know, Lisa – Pen didn’t commit to that statement; she merely said that if it was suicide, it *might* tells us a lot about what happens when both people in marriage Lean In. that’s true, as written, since it leaves open the possibility that it might *not* tell us…anythying.

      that’s just my hot-fudge-sundae-powered $0.02.

      • walt stawicki
        walt stawicki says:

        it might also tell us about overachievers who might be perfection obsessed…and their denial issues. duicife? oh the cant happen here mental disease stench of it!

    • thatgirl
      thatgirl says:

      I don’t know if connecting it to “leaning in” is “too much.” Perhaps it’s in the way Penelope put it that irks you, but I do see the possibility of one spouse being so immersed with said leaning in, that they don’t see the stresses that threaten the mental health of the spouse supporting she or he who is leaning in.

      Sandberg spoke plainly about the importance of the supportive spouse in success stories like her own. I know that my own spouse, whose career is full-to-brimming on its own, stepped in during an insane, year-long project that saw me traveling and working extraordinary hours. I wouldn’t eaten many home-cooked meals, a coffee in my hand as I dashed out early mornings, or much clean laundry without him. I also know that I was so buried in my work there were times I was clueless about his stress. I’m not proud of it, but I know it happened, and why it did.

      I, too, have noticed nothing being said about hsi condition–even something vague–and agree that it’s a bit suspect. I don’t expect Sandberg herself to come out to speak about his death personally at this time, but I’ve had a couple of acquaintances commit suicide, and it’s not at all unusual to say nothing if that’s how one’s death occurred.

      How, indeed, could a single person lean in? Both people in a couple cannot, even with the resources that great wealth can bring–not without consequences, at least.

      I’m with Penelope, and would like to know. And even if this isn’t suicide, per se, it could very well have been stress-induced. Both are teachable moments. I have a friend who recently passed suddenly. He was in his 40s and became a partner in a high-profile white shoe law firm in the past couple of years. He had the world on a string, international travel, and was beginning to enjoy the trappings of a successful life; but he began to change dramatically, physiologically speaking. All that travel and long hours took a healthy, vibrant, generous person and crushed him, long before his time. Again, these are things worth discussing–and the honesty required therein.

      • Jen
        Jen says:

        My thoughts exactly. I went with the stress-related idea, working in technology you read a lot of those obituaries.
        Both scenaries are probable and we can learn from both.
        Saying it could have been a suicide is not disrespectful; it is just another way to die, one that destroys families. Hence, the learning opportunity.

  5. Danielle
    Danielle says:

    I also just have to say….this post is in poor taste. The woman’s husband just died and you are essentially blaming her for it. I think you owe Sheryl Sandberg an apology.

    • Kaitlyn Kramer
      Kaitlyn Kramer says:

      Uh, hello. She’s not blaming Sheryl Sandberg; she’s blaming the institution of “Leaning In.” It’s a sham. No one, but especially not a woman, can have it all.

      If anything, Sheryl Sandberg owes the women of the world an apology for propagating an ideal that cannot be achieved. (Or, if it can be achieved, at what cost? Certainly, if this is the cost, it’s too high.)

    • Mary
      Mary says:

      I speak only from my personal experience.

      In the 80’s and 90’s I had a BIG career; I “leaned in”…and so did my husband. My job ended abruptly, his did too, and we were thrust into a “lean out” phase. It took years and years to come to terms with the change. But right now, looking back on the 15+ wonderful years of getting to know our children, of working to live not to create wealth or for any other reason – no regrets. Glad we stopped selling our souls for an impossible ambitions and got a life!

      • Margaret15
        Margaret15 says:

        Mary, your post was refreshing and your children will be much healthier for this change you and your hubby experienced.

      • jessica
        jessica says:

        ‘Who you are’ via career label is so ingrained in our culture. I think we should step back and stop identifying people by labels. They only tell one side of the life-story, anyway.

    • Jessica
      Jessica says:

      I more than agree with the posters who think this is in poor taste. Suicide isn’t something that can be boiled down this way, and frankly, it is not just disrespectful to Sandberg and her family to speculate about this, but also disrespectful to all the people who struggle from suicidal depression or have lost love ones to it.

    • Kk
      Kk says:

      Agreed, Danielle. Some people just don’t want to accept that others can have a happy life – successful career, marriage, kids etc. It’s easier for them to accept that there must be some type of misery in everyone’s life other than just their own. God forbid someone be happy!

  6. Tom
    Tom says:

    Boy, will you get slammed for this.

    But it’s yet another example of why you’re as interesting a writer as I’ve ever read.

    • Pat
      Pat says:

      Agree – when I read it, first thought was “This is probably true, and only Penelope Trunk would say this.”

  7. Kelly Exeter
    Kelly Exeter says:

    Oh Penelope – not cool. I hope you’ll rethink this one because if someone reaches the point of wanting to take their own life, Leaning In would be right at the bottom of the list of reasons ‘why’

  8. A
    A says:

    I… Have no words. This article is in such poor taste and the fact that you’re trying to blame this on “Leaning in” is not only ridiculous, but such b.s. that I wonder if Fox News didn’t pay you to write this.

    • Robin Barr
      Robin Barr says:

      I’m in the poor taste camp. Just too soon. Am I curious how Dave died? Of course, I was researching it when i came here, regret it, feel a little dirty now. Congrats, you slid in, first to exploit. Stand proud!

      • Tom
        Tom says:

        I don’t understand why you presume to sneer at the person who wrote the article you admit you were scouring the net for.

        Did you not get what a hypocrite you were being when you drafted your little put-down?

      • Pushing Daisies
        Pushing Daisies says:

        I feel the same as you, Robin. Penelope Trunk is such an Internet troll; and her commentary on Dave Goldberg’s death is crass and unwarranted. A woman just lost her husband in a freak accident. That’s all that matters right now. Empathy and compassion.

        However, the Internet Troll called Penelope Trunk has used this sad event to gain attention by spewing inflammatory drivel. Desperate for internet clicks much?

        What a loser.

  9. YY
    YY says:

    He did not kill himself. He was on vacation with his family, it’s really hard to kill yourself when you are on vacation/traveling – you might be seen and thus prevented from successfully attempting suicide, you can’t even bring all the drugs you want overseas sometimes to commit the suicide. He wouldn’t committed suicide elsewhere, not while he is on vacation.

    And even if he did kill himself, it would have been because of some sort of depression or mental illness that the public didn’t know about. He would not have killed himself if he “just couldn’t lean-in” anymore. Please, when people who can’t take it, they cheat, get a divorce, or maybe even attempt to kill his wife.

    He might’ve slipped and got seriously injured, he might’ve had a heart attack (the man does not look exactly healthy).

    Anyways, rest in peace. Rest in Peace, Dave.

      • techhymom
        techhymom says:

        Lean in doesn’t cause stress in the marriage leading to suicide. This whole article makes me sick. I read the book and enjoyed it very much. Her story was applicable to the few who understand this career field. If your not working in a male dominated industry such as tech, then it doesn’t apply to you. If you’re single, then this also doesn’t apply to you. She depicted her husband as admirable and humble and who was biggest fan. What works for one does not work for all. It’s so sad that as women we all can’t just be supportive of each other. Each of us have different lives. Let this family heal.

      • jessica
        jessica says:


        So he was on vacation in Mexico by himself? Seeing how she was in DC Friday?

        Who goes on a trip by themselves, other than to get away from it all for a few days?

        Where were the kids?

        • jessica
          jessica says:

          want to clear this up- NYT is saying he was on Vaca with ‘family and friends’ but they are not specifying who.

          He was not on a trip with his wife, is all we know.

    • narmno
      narmno says:

      “He was on vacation with his family”

      Actually, this deleted tweet says otherwise:


      As soon as the news came out, I felt it would be suicide. Why? Because although the media is practically in bed with Sandberg, I strongly believe Lean In causes unhappiness, as much as people want to believe otherwise. And it looks I’ll be vindicated, sadly.

  10. Crystal
    Crystal says:

    Coming from a family with numerous suicides, I can tell you with certainty, if it was a suicide, she is trying to protect the children. With enough money and clout, it is possible for her to keep it under wraps indefinitely.
    I can also say with certainty that a suicide in the family is an excruciating burden for them to carry, for a lifetime. Emphasis on LIFETIME. Try to let that sink in for a few seconds.
    Please leave her in peace to mourn. You might think it has something to do with you because she wrote a book, but really it has nothing at all to do with you.
    She is in horrible pain no matter the cause of death. Dig deep down and find some class. I know it’s there somewhere!

  11. Jamila
    Jamila says:

    If it was suicide it still has nothing to do with leaning in. People commit suicide because they are mentally ill, it has nothing to do with how much or how little money you have, how great your family is, how fulfilling your career is, etc. I’m reminded of how Pastor Rick Warrens son killed himself. He and and his wife had come home with their son after a lovely day, nothing seemed amiss, and the young man just went into the bathroom and shot himself. They had given him the best medical care, everyone was praying for him, they did everything they could for him and he still took his life in a moment of despair. So whether you lean in or lean out, if you’re mentally ill it won’t matter.

  12. Connie
    Connie says:

    I think you are wrong in speculating about suicide and it is not ok to do so – this puts an immense burden on the family and his kids. Sudden deaths happen. So happened to my collegue from work this past March who suddenly passed away on his way home from work. He was a healthy 39 old man, non-smoker and avid soccer player – his aorta burst.

    • Tom
      Tom says:

      If it were a medical issue it would have been announced. AFAIK, Penelope is the first person to figure out what it meant when there was no cause given.

      And for those saying it’s none of Penelope’s business, they are both public figures, and this event is at the absolute crux of everything Penelope talks about on this blog.

      • Kk
        Kk says:

        However, Penelope was wrong!! Amusing that at after 2:00 pm on May 4th you still are not up to date on the facts. Verified by Facebook/Zuckerberg, as well as resort staff, he was on vacation with his wife when he died. Some people are just not happy with truth and would rather spin a disrespectful, rumor-filled story in a sad attempt to make their life not look so bad.

    • jessica
      jessica says:

      My husband works a very stressful job. He doesn’t know anyone that has passed from stress yet, but we all know it is bound to happen.

      This whole story has caused my husband to become hyper vigilant about vowing to stick to an exercise routine, limit the meat intake, and get his heart physicals more regularly.

      It would be incredibly difficult to live our life without my husband and vice versa. We built it together. I can’t imagine it’s much different for her (regardless of her status).

  13. Douglas Evans
    Douglas Evans says:

    What business is of yours to speculate about this man’s death? You know nothing. I trust his family to deal with it in the best way possible for them, even if that never includes telling you or me. It is none of my business, or yours, or your readers. Get over yourself and your sad attempt to garner attention for yourself from someone else’s tragedy. It is truly pathetic – even if it is true, which it most likely is not.

  14. Marc Robinson
    Marc Robinson says:

    Thank you Penelope for this post. To all those who think this is in bad taste, you are entitled to your opinion, just as I can say F*CK OFF for your worthless ad hominem arguments.

    Penelope, I can’t say you’re right, but your perspective is as reasonable/believable (if not more) than any other guess. Suicide is a serious risk affecting elite professions. Lawyers in the past, doctors in the present, and tech careerist in this hyper-competitive start-up age. Medicine is opening up to reporting and dealing with it; tech I haven’t seen so much. Of course, Sheryl has every motivation in the world to hide the cause if it is suicide: stress-induced suicide could severely damage her entire “Lean In” message.

    • Bev Johnson
      Bev Johnson says:

      I agree. While it’s normally taboo to speculate about cause of death, I really don’t think this was a case of low class nosyness. Instead, I think that those of us who have read the book are wondering how this sad event figures in to Sheryl’s very public arguments. Stress can absolutely kick off an episode of major depression and I say this from experience. Physical ailments too. Last year I started getting tons of migraines, and a tiny voice inside of me said, “Maybe lean back for awhile. Your health is number one.” I really hesitated because of some of the things in the book (my marriage is not 50/50 because I chose a loveable dingaling), but ultimately chose physical and mental health over my career. I know many people out there are constantly reevaluating their priorities, and the question of whether this was a stress explosion is sadly just on our minds. Truly, nobody wants to say “I told you so.” We are just…recalibrating. Love and good vibes to you and your family, Sheryl, mama to mama.

  15. Grace Fong
    Grace Fong says:

    It seems odd to me that she didn’t stay with her husband’s body, even for a full day. Reports say she was back in Washington, DC by Saturday morning returning from “overseas.” Was her beloved left in a hospital, a morgue, or even in a hotel room?

    Why return to Washington, DC and not jet back directly to California where, presumably, the kids were? They are school-aged and it is not spring break, not likely to hop overseas for a weekend jaunt.

        • yasmara
          yasmara says:

          My guess is that he was on vacation with another woman. It’s not a suicide they are trying to cover up, it’s infidelity.

      • Kk
        Kk says:

        They were together in Punta Mita; they arrived the day before his death as reported by multiple sources, including resort staff.

  16. kassie
    kassie says:

    Yet again, I agree with Penelope’s unique perspective.

    Sandberg put her personal life on display when everything was “going perfectly,” so it’s only natural that people feel curious and confused at this news.

    I have had experience writing obituaries for family members that have died suddenly and that have taken their own lives – if there’s nothing to hide, you say so.

    Another possibility? Drug overdose

  17. Kylie
    Kylie says:

    I thought the omission was odd too, and as sad as the possibility of a suicide is, it is usually the only reason for complete omission. I hope we are all wrong, because that would be a devastating reality for the family to live with.

    But if it is true, then I agree that Sheryl Sandberg needs to address it at some point. You can’t build a profile on the “you can have it all”-cult and not address the reality when it does smack you upside the head.

    Yes, she needs time to mourn and make sure the kids are in a safe place about the whole situation – but if it was suicide, then she owes it to the women who have followed and believed in her admit it.

    And thank you Penelope, I don’t know that too many other people would go there, and personally I thought you handled a difficult topic well.

  18. Kellie Bloom
    Kellie Bloom says:

    You are correct, you are being spiteful and mean. This family has experienced a devastating loss, let them nest and grieve. It is despicable of you to infer the cause of death. Have some common decency and respect their pain and privacy, as I’m sure they would do for you.

    • Tom
      Tom says:

      It’s not despicable; it’s her job.

      She’s a journalist, not one of the moms in your carpool.

      • Bill Hogan
        Bill Hogan says:

        She’s not a journalist by any stretch of the word. She’s a hateful, mean-spirited, know-nothing pundit who is capitalizing on someone else’s grief to score points with sycophants like you.

        Anyone with an ounce of compassion would wait a day or two for more information to come out, which it will. Anyone with half a brain would not speculate in such a situation. And anyone with an understanding of humanity wouldn’t blame his wife. In case you missed it, Mr. Goldberg was highly driven and successful on his own. Trying to blame feminism is a true low point for this writer.

      • Kk
        Kk says:

        LMFAO, Tom. She’s not a “journalist” she’s a damn blogger – big difference. Someone with her horrendous writing skills is not, nor will she ever be, a “journalist.” I believe you have just offended thousands of professional journalist, worldwide.

  19. Kina
    Kina says:

    Reading those comments I am very surprised the suicide is such a taboo topic in US society. Why?

    • Julie
      Julie says:

      Because in a society that gives its utmost respect to self-reliance and success, suicide is an admission that the person affected could not solve his or her own problems.

      There is also the totally unfair perception that the family should have been able to help, although we know that in reality the family may not have known the person affected was suffering from depression or considering suicide.

      That said, there is more sympathy in the U.S. when suicide is committed by for a person who was suffering from some form of family or societal oppression or lacking the resources to address his or her emotional problems – say, a poor or imprisoned person with no access to psychiatric services, a person suffering from domestic abuse, or a LGBT teen rejected by a religious family.

      There is less understanding for people who seem to ‘have it all’ and commit suicide. If this person had all the fame, fortune and family success that so many other people strive for and it still wasn’t enough, what does that mean for the rest of us?

    • jd
      jd says:

      You’re surprised that the ending of one’s life is a sensitive subject? I’m surprised you’re surprised.

  20. Funkright
    Funkright says:

    I couldn’t have said it better… Personally, I didn’t agree with what his wife put forward (truly unaccomplishable), but this post was pathetic and entirely self serving. She’ll get the clicks she desires though

  21. Maria
    Maria says:

    Well Penelope,

    The vultures are circling and I was surprised and disappointed to see you were one of them. This saddens me. It was too soon, the man hasn’t even been buried yet.

    Perhaps you were projecting, having your own difficulties and you angrily had to find a scapegoat.

    But it was too soon.

    I don’t know if you are an investor in Facebook, or Dave S.’s company in which case, although the timing would still be inappropriate, you would have some invested interest.

    However, as you likely don’t have an invested interest in their businesses, you could have waited. Empathy is a learned behavior with Aspbergers and there is no shame in taking down this article for a later date. Everyone makes mistakes.

    Sheryl S. has never said anything negative about anyone. She is well liked by all who know her and seems to have tried to give 110% to everything she does.

    She has never done anything to you. She is grieving and she is in shock. Bashing her is simply cruel.

    The funniest woman in North America Joan Rivers walked in Sheryl’s shoes when her husband committed suicide and it made the news before social media.

    The funniest man, Robin Williams, made the news when he committed suicide as well.

    I wrote a post about it, I called it “E is for the Elephant in the Room” and the link is on my website.

    The academy award winning director of the movie Top Gun and 37 other directors (according to Wikipedia) committed suicide as did musicians, actors and many others in the entertainment industry.

    Blaming Sheryl S. for her husband’s suicide (if it was suicide) is the most cruel part of your post. She could have been a stay at home wife, and if this man wanted to kill himself, he would still have done it (if it was suicide).

    Cruel intentions or not, you have a responsibility and could be held liable for your statements. You must think of your own children. Of your business ventures and your own husband. You may lose fans, readers, students and investors. Not because you wrote a post giving your own opinion, but because the level of cruelty and poor timing showed bad judgement and poor taste.

    There’s not enough apologies for this one, Penelope, there is just atonement and restitution.


    • Katelyn Kramer
      Katelyn Kramer says:

      1) It was not too soon. It was actually overdue. It’s not her fault the rest of the media abdicated their responsibility to report the whole story.

      2) She is not bashing Sheryl. She is not even blaming Sheryl. She’s simply questioning the “Lean In” rhetoric — which might just have proven to have unintentional and devastating consequences — where so many others still blindly accept and promote it.

      • Bill Hogan
        Bill Hogan says:

        She didn’t “report” anything. She has absolutely zero facts. She simply engaged in wild, irreponsible speculation to promote her own agenda, taking advantage of this family in devastating circumstances.

        What a horrible, despicable person.

    • techhymom
      techhymom says:

      Thank you Maria for your posting. I couldn’t have said it better. May your response help teach others of how to demonstrate empathy and social etiquette in times like these.

  22. Kitty Kilian
    Kitty Kilian says:

    Suicide is most often caused by depression, an illness that needs to be understood better, because it claims many lives. So please, Penelope, inform yourself about it. Yes the taboo needs to be dispelled. And no, not even the best marriage in the world, nor the best parenting, can prevent it, in many cases. Therapy and medication can, if you are lucky enough to get the right help in time.

  23. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    I have been a big fan of your blog for awhile. However, this post is making me rethink that. This post is in extremely poor taste.

    Yes, Dave Goldberg was married to Sheryl Sandberg. Yes, Sheryl started the Lean In Movement. However, she just lost her husband at the far too young age of 47. Give her time to decompress and grieve her massive loss with her family and friends. The media, bloggers like you and the Twitter sphere don’t need to know the cause of death right away or frankly at all. That’s up to Sheryl and her family to disclose if they wish to.

    There’s absolute no reason to write a post in this tone and manner other than to stir up dialogue and controversy (and oh yeah generate a bunch of new eyeballs and traffic to your site). That’s sickening. You owe an apology to Sandberg and all your readers.

    • VMan
      VMan says:

      Sandberg is a public figure and if she is as she appears, she probably doesn’t spend a lot time goggling herself, certainly not in the aftermath of losing a spouse.

      The PROBLEM is that we allow Silly Con Valley tush-kissing baloney PR / Media dissembling to “dominate”, when we should be asking questions. Not to pick on the individuals necessarily, but to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

      The WSJ, NYT, and others should be advancing these questions. We should already have some bits and pieces of information from snoopy reporters. One hopes they are in the process of gleaning this, which is why we haven’t heard anything but regurgitating the Press Release.

      There are several issues here: The deference shown to the Powerful (particularly those Powerful with the same background/social circles as Media Editors) and the potential conflict between ideology and practice in Lean In for starters.

  24. Doug
    Doug says:

    On a CBC documentary discussing suicide a while back one of the reporters interviewed stated that “died suddenly” is the code phrase reporters use when they write a story about someone commits suicide. And that’s the phrase all the news organizations are using to describe DS’s death. Not conclusive by any means, but seems likely.

  25. Laura
    Laura says:

    “I want to know, how can someone Lean In as a single parent? I wonder how someone will Lean In when there is no other parent to comfort a sad child.”

    So do I, as a single parent passionate about my career and sole custody of three children, I asked myself this question when I read the book.

    • Su
      Su says:

      The fact that people question the reason behind the death- is that Sheryl et al imply that part of the reason that they are successful is because they make smart decisions (inc. choosing a husband who they could lean in) and ridicule women who have made different life decisions. They don’t acknowledge that a series of chance events contributed to their narrow definition of success. And who can blame them – when it concurs with society’s definition of success

      What if some one has to lean on you – and not vice versa – does that make you a loser?

      I think the post resonated with a lot of people – because it validated that some of the choices that they made was A OK

  26. Maria
    Maria says:

    I really agree with Lisa who said this “I was with you until the last sentence. Penelope. You are likely right about what happened. If so, I hope Sandberg will ultimately opt for honesty and contribute to a long-overdue national conversation about abolishing the stigma associated with depression. But to label a possible suicide as the consequence of Leaning In is too much. Doing so demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of depression, which is immune to the best, most perfect, outside circumstances.”

    Connecting his death with the “Lean in” movement is very wrong! There could be hundered of causes for the complexity of depression….

    I still admire Sheryl for her energy, optimism and willingnes to share and help other woman succeed. RIP Dave and might God help his wife, children and rest of the family.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Let’s say Dave was depressed. Surely Sheryl would have known.

      On April 22 she came out in full force with her Lean In organization, telling men to step up what they are doing at home.

      If she had a husband who is both depressed and in the national spotlight for being her husband, it seems that she would scale back her talk about how men need to do more.

      In the best scenario, she was using her husband as the poster boy for the d0-it-all-dad and that’s a lot of pressure for a guy whose depressed.


      • Lisa
        Lisa says:

        No, Penelope, one may not assume Sandberg would have known if her husband was depressed. People can hide depression very well, even from a spouse.

        Seriously, you should read up on depression before writing another word about it. Your opinions are usually so well researched … I am disappointed to see you falling short of your typical high standard with respect to this very important topic.

        • Alison
          Alison says:

          It’s very easy to identify the Americans who are still True Believers in this comment thread. Penelope’s not making claims about what did happen, she’s hypothesizing based on the dysfunctional system that is “lean in.”

          Sheryl is a well-intended feminist and a tremendously hard worker, but for millions of people, the stress of “you can have it all” leads to familial collapse one way or the other. We should be able to talk about it.

          Other countries work fewer hours and have more worker production than their American counterparts. They have better rates of mental and other health because of it.

          You’re spinning off the topic of the discussion here instead of looking from 10 000 feet.

      • Universal Management
        Universal Management says:

        Or, you know, it could have been AN ACCCIDENT, as the NY Times is now reporting.

        This post was based on shamefully premature and ghoulish speculation. I hope you will update it to reflect the reality if the situation—and perhaps give a little thought to why the scenario if suicide seemed to make such an appealing script for you.

      • Pushing Daisies
        Pushing Daisies says:

        Penelope Trunk, you’re such an Internet Troll! Desperate for page clicks much?

  27. Mitz
    Mitz says:

    So hits to your blog are more important than a grieving family’s loss?
    Your post was so insensitive and ignorant on so many levels.
    How he died is nobody’s business. If it was suicide, your ignorance toward suicide and depression is startling.
    Don’t know the family, just stumbled here by accident.
    Thankfully will never return.

    • Anna
      Anna says:

      Public figures lead public lives and they don’t get to pick and choose the conversation about them. How can a CEO of another tech company possibly be the parent that is the backbone for a lean-in spouse on the other side? Gender is irrelevant here. I do feel bad for the kids if it’s suicide, but what’s done is done if that’s the case. Kudos to Penelope for addressing this topic openly.

      • Dorothy
        Dorothy says:

        When there’s a sudden death of a relatively young person(think Tim Russert) the media coverage usually says something like,”coroner’s report pending”. Didn’t see anything like that here

  28. Laura
    Laura says:

    My Mom died from suicide and it is a terrible thing for a family to go through. Just let them have this time in peace. I’m sure it will come out eventually.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      There is already a public discussion going on about the marriage of Sheryl and Dave. Sheryl launched a whole organization to talk about her marriage.

      So it makes sense to me that we would talk about the end of their marriage as well. What caused the end and how does this shed light on her very public and outspoken views on how we should aspire to have a husband like Dave and a marriage like hers.


      • Laura
        Laura says:

        I respectfully disagree. Suicide does not at all necessarily reflect upon an unhappy marriage, it simply means the person had mental health problems. It means that that person thought that they could not take another day; they have a skewed vision of the world they live in.

        It’s almost like anorexia, in that they could have a healthy body but think they are fat. Someone who takes their own life could have a fantastic life and family (and be an effective participant in family life) but because of a chemical imbalance they have trouble seeing it.

        It’s irresponsible to link the state of their marriage with his suicide, if that is what’s happened.

      • Stav
        Stav says:

        Totally agree. They are at least as public as the Obamas, in fact more so, and they chose a public life as much as almost any public figure in the US, so the questions are legitimate.

      • Kim A.
        Kim A. says:

        End of their marriage? Someone dying is not the end of a marriage anymore than a mom dying is the end of being a parent. They didn’t divorce, so stop with the false equivalency. It has now been announced that he died of a heart attack, so we are awaiting your retraction…somehow I doubt you have that much grace.

        • Kim A.
          Kim A. says:

          Really sickened by your language “what caused the end (of their marriage)” as opposed to what caused him to die. That is beyond irresponsible writing. Those two things are not one and the same, and one of those things didn’t happen. The marriage didn’t end the way you imply. By all accounts, their marriage was happy and they were on holiday together in Mexico. If you were happy in your own life, I don’t think you would stoop so low.

      • lisa
        lisa says:

        did you lose the empathy chip along the way or were you born like this? if you wanted to prove to us that you are desensitized to other people’s pain, you’ve succeeded.

        yes, penelope you can overthink anyone under the table but i suggest you get out of your own head for one second, and if that isn’t possible, maybe try letting someone with a decent sense of compassion and decorum approve your posts. i hate when people who influence others do this shit and followers think its refreshing and revelatory or justifiable because the target espoused something perceived as arrogant or flawed in some way.

  29. Justin
    Justin says:

    Shame on you. You’re wildly speculating about something you have absolutely know clue about in an attempt to promote yourself and your agenda. Tasteless does not begin to describe this cheap, sleazy piece of garbage. It’s cruel and disgusting you would publicize this for personal gain.

    It’s truly despicable of you to attack the partner of the deceased less than 48 hours from their death. You are scum of the earth and you owe Sheryl and her family an apology. Take this down immediately.

    • VMan
      VMan says:

      Can we have an real conversation, without the Moral Superiority assertions (the plague of American discourse), for once?

      IF Goldberg died from Suicide, or in a “Sordid” manner, it absolutely sheds light on Sandberg’s ideas (or self-promotion) of “Lean In”.

      We need to stop with self-helpy “Feel Guilty you’re not perfect (implied: like me)” baloney.

  30. Julie
    Julie says:

    I think the suicide theory makes sense, and it says a lot about our media culture that the New York Times, Washington Post and other respected media outlets would accept an unexplained cause of death for ‘one of their own.’ Would they have done the same for, say, a well-known conservative evangelical preacher?

    If it is suicide, this is a fantastic teachable moment for other people who may be struggling with depression, particularly those in the tech industry who look like they ‘have it all.’ You are not alone. Depression is not shameful; it’s an illness. There is help. People want to help you get better.

    Dave Goldberg ‘had it all’ – but the idea of having it all and then ending it all is not new. Most of us read the 1897 poem ‘Richard Corey’ in high school – and many others probably heard the Simon and Garfunkel Song, circa 1965:

    Richard Cory
    Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
    We people on the pavement looked at him:
    He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
    Clean favored, and imperially slim.

    And he was always quietly arrayed,
    And he was always human when he talked;
    But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
    “Good-morning,” and he glittered when he walked.

    And he was rich—yes, richer than a king—
    And admirably schooled in every grace:
    In fine, we thought that he was everything
    To make us wish that we were in his place.

    So on we worked, and waited for the light,
    And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
    And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
    Went home and put a bullet through his head.

    • Dilys
      Dilys says:

      Thanks for this poem. I hadn’t heard of it before. It sent a shiver down my spine. I had a friend who killed herself. It was nearly as unexpected as in this poem. So, yes I accept that any unexpected (and unexplained death) could be suicide.

  31. Andi Garcia
    Andi Garcia says:

    It is easy to tell that you have not experienced loss. The audacity for anyone to think its anyone’s business of how another died where there is no relation..well is pure ignorance. All I can say to those… We all have our time and when it happens “I want to know” how you will feel. Leave them in peace. Removing subscription . peace love light to you.

  32. JR
    JR says:

    Just wow. I am appalled at this piece of writing. I am removing my subscription from this blog. Just so wrong on so many different levels.

  33. lisa
    lisa says:

    Seriously, what poor taste. If it is a suicide, it has nothing to do with his wife being successful. You disgust me.

    • Julie
      Julie says:

      And yet, whenever we look at the suicides of Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath, we carefully inspect the conditions of their marriages, and the support from their husbands or lack of it.

      Both women suffered from depression, but we don’t see it as out of bounds to place their deaths in context when it comes to their personal lives, and how the social conventions of the day may have limited their choices, or what they thought their choices were.

  34. big ode
    big ode says:

    If it was a suicide there would have been a police investigation which usually is in the public record (though it depends on the jurisdiction where it occurred). If there was a public record it would eventually be revealed by a journalist or otherwise leaked.

    • VMan
      VMan says:

      The only caveat here is that it was to claimed to have happened abroad (where we don’t know), so the process of how the authorities determine the cause of death is unknown.

      In many countries, absent obvious foul play, there may be no investigation at all unless the family requests it or does it themselves.

  35. KMC
    KMC says:

    Dave Goldberg and Sheryl Sandberg (not as husband and wife) but as CEO and COO of million-billion dollar companies gave up certain expectations of privacy when they accepted their high power, high paid positions as they answer to shareholders or investors. *If* he took his own life over finance the non-disclosure of his death is unethical. In December 2014 early investors of SurveyMonkey cashed out $250 million but the company is valued at $2 billion. We learned last week with Secret Inc. closing its doors that what a company is valued at isn’t the same as what a company’s worth.

  36. anonymous
    anonymous says:

    Thanks for the post. I wish though that you had pointed out that depression and suicide are mental illness. Please don’t blame anything in this impressive couple’s personal life or views for something that is just a rather ordinary illness that ended in tragedy. It is really sad that he wasn’t able to get help before making such a decision. Sheryl will be able to lean in as much as she likes with some paid help to aid her at home but it will never make up for the tragedy and the grief at losing her partner and her children’s Father. (A good Nanny can be great at comforting a sad child. The question is not ‘who will comfort a sad child’ but do you really want someone else to comfort your child? Either way the child will be comforted and well cared for.) I am truly sad for her and can only wish her and her family only the best.
    As for ‘Lean in’, I think most people who are successful are truly just lucky because there are so many people with equal credentials that could have done the same thing. Nevertheless, overall it is a positive message that she projects and therefore a good one. It is true that many are not included in this sort of narrow focus, but really that was not her point. If she inspires just the one woman who becomes the next Steve Jobs or the next president wouldn’t it be wonderful? We all find our own way anyway. If what gives you the greatest pleasure is to spend time with your children and watch them grow up then it is wonderful that you are able to do this. If what gives you the greatest pleasure is to be the COO of Face book and also have children then you should also be able to do this. These are decisions everyone of us must make–including Fathers. It should not be that being successful impedes women from having children or that having children impedes women from achieving other dreams. I don’t think that you can have it all, but often women are not aware of the decisions they are making and then it is ‘too late’. I believe this is more the point of her message with lean in.

  37. michelle
    michelle says:

    It is seriously none of anyone’s business, unless they are a close family member or similar, how this person met their tragic untimely death. Seriously? Privately you can speculate all you want, talk about things amongst yourselves til you turn blue, but we don’t know this person, how on earth is it some kind of noble journalism to be angry that the cause of his death is not disclosed and to sleuth for some kind of “coverup?” And to then go on and assume, that if it is a suicide, that it was “caused” by some permutation of his wife’s public persona. That’s not journalism, that’s cheap, creepy tabloid voyeurism.

    • Rick
      Rick says:

      “It is seriously none of anyone’s business, unless they are a close family member or similar, how this person met their tragic untimely death.”

      Sorry, but wrong. When famous people die, it is everybody’s business. They Purposefully put themselves in the spotlight.
      You are letting your emotions cloud your judgement.

  38. Adam
    Adam says:

    I think we should give Penelope the benefit of the doubt that the probability of avoiding some future suicides or stress induced heart attacks justifies her slight infringement of censorious social conventions. She does a good job of acknowledging her possible conflicts of interest, and I think her primary interest in writing this is for the public good.

    • Julie
      Julie says:

      I agree – and if celebrity is good for anything, it is for letting people know they are not alone.

      If Dave was indeed a suicide, I hope this will be a catalyst for showing people in the tech industry that depression and suicidal thoughts happen to others, and that help is available.

      If you’re reading this and having suicidal thoughts, call a hotline, speak to a therapist at your workplace, or tell an old and trusted friend. Don’t stop talking until you get the help you need.

      Depression is a terrible dark place – I’ve been there. But it’s a sickness, and you can get better. Trust me. If this is you, take action today to start getting better.

      People want to help you get better.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Thank you, Adam. I appreciate you saying this.

      There are always a lot of ways to write for the public good. In this case, it’s good to talk about a hotline for people contemplating suicide. Okay. I’ll put that in right now:
      1 (800) 273-8255
      National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
      Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week

      But honestly, I thought of this post as a public service announcement to all the people contemplating leaning in.

      It takes a village to help you lean in. The CEO of Pepsi, Indra Nooyi, recently talked about how she is very dependent on her mother to take care of the family when Indra has no time or energy.

      We need to talk more about the support system someone requires to lean in. How many nannies? How many times does someone else stand in for the parent at school events? How many times do other people take the kids on trip for sprint break? How many times does the spouse crumble under the pressure of someone else leaning in?

      We need to talk about the whole picture – not just the positive things about leaning in. Something very bad happened in Sheryl’s marriage. She holds up her marriage is the gold standard for leaning in. So we need to talk about it when we talk about careers.


      • Claire Malfaro
        Claire Malfaro says:

        Good insight . Trying to do it all , especially without multi million dollar salaries , stresses the mentally healthy . Imagine the damage to those with underlying mental illness .

      • mg
        mg says:

        I’m sure you know that in her famous interview with Time in 2013, she refused to answer questions about her domestic help, claiming that a man wouldn’t have been asked the same questions. But when the interviewer offered to ask her husband the same questions, she declined that offer as well:


      • Nicholle Gulcur
        Nicholle Gulcur says:

        This is perfect. SUPPORT SYSTEMS. That’s what ultimatley drives anyone to success be it in a career, a relationship, as parents. We are the sum of our environments. Thanks for getting people talking, Penelope. Even though a lot of people are missing the point I know you’ll get through to enough to make a difference. Thank you for this and everything you write.

      • HarriedandHopeless
        HarriedandHopeless says:

        I fully expected Penelope to comment on this story because of her past insights on Sandberg’s opinion on leaning in.
        I have to admit that I had the same exact thought this morning as Penelope when I read the story. Perhaps his death had absolutely nothing to do with the arrangement but I think it makes sense to ask the question. I applaud Penelope for having the courage to ask the question.

        To all of those who are outraged by the asking of the question and have vociferously voiced your outrage, I wonder if you all would have the same opinion if the last name in the story was different. Say one that started with a P? I would hope that your comments would be consistent. I’ll be watching.

      • Kim A.
        Kim A. says:

        Are you really off your meds or what? “Something really bad happened in Sheryl’s marriage”????.Please state the factual basis for this statement. What pray tell really bad thing happened in her marriage? You sound incredibly bitter and I can’t imagine that you have a healthy relationship yourself with this attitude – your comment is pure conjecture. And you state that you are doing this as a public service announcement to those considering leaning in? Really? Because those that choose to are likely to end up dead? You clearly have an ax to grind with Ms. Sandberg and are using this untimely death to create your straw man. The multiple false equivalencies, lack of intellectual rigor and illogical conclusive statements are galling. Please enlighten us on how leaning in is likely to lead to spousal suicide. Because that is what you are directly implying multiple times. I always found your posts flighty from the time I read the move to Madison rationale, but this takes the cake for a fluff piece. He died of a heart attack – it’s time to retract your statement. NOW.

      • Christy
        Christy says:

        Penelope, He did not commit suicide. His death was a horrible, random, tragic accident.
        You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.

      • Jack locker
        Jack locker says:

        Thank you for your read between the lines of us propaganda to sling your factless baseless assumption that the man went on vacation WITH HIS FAMILY to off himself, in an exercise room while exercising (as reported). Appreciate the time you spent looking up the suicide help info in your above post..

      • Martha
        Martha says:

        Penelope, regardless of how you want to justify it, your post is inappropriate. The cause of dead was not suicide.
        An extraordinary human being has died and has left many heartbroken. Including two young children. Instead of highlighting a remarkable short life, to inspire others, you speculate about the cause of death.
        We all know that leaning in requires support; we don’t need your interpretation.
        I will never read your blog again. It does not provide anything of value.

      • Alice
        Alice says:

        ‘Something very bad happened in Sheryl;s marriage’. I know you have Aspergers but that’s really no excuse. Please go to a therapist, Penelope. I beg of you.

      • Jim Meyers
        Jim Meyers says:

        I’m calling BS. Your post was not a PSA. Be as honest as you were when you wrote it and admit your disdain for Lean In and Sheryl Sandberg clouded your judgment. Your radical honesty is why I read you and signed up for your INTJ workshop. You were classic PT until you made a wild speculation that was purely spiteful and wishful thinking. Sometimes there is “bad publicity,” and this one hurts your street cred. Dave wasn’t the focus of your spite, so jumping to suicide as the cause of death, even if it was just an opinion, damages your credibility as a life and career guru. It’s obvious you went to suicide, because you dislike Sheryl so much, and you hoped it was Dave’s only way out to escape her web of deceit… and it would all prove your point.

    • laura
      laura says:

      Honestly- this is one of the craziest pieces I have read in a LONG time–the speculation, the innuendos rival the Enquirer!! THERE WAS NO SUICIDE!! People– none of this makes any sense at all….from the first blog entry–to some of the ignorant responses. Wow–as a mental health provider–I cannot even begin to comments on the disturbed minds who have pushed forward some of the bizarre comments. Even putting the overall weirdness aside- what a mean-spirited piece. Wow

      • Martha
        Martha says:

        Thank you, Laura, for being the voice of reason! Particularly because you are a mental health professional. I don’t normally participate in internet forums but this is too inappropriate to be silent.

  39. Lindsay
    Lindsay says:

    I don’t understand all these people saying we don’t have a right to discuss the cause of death of a public figure. If cause of death is so taboo, why does every obituary of a public person’s death ever mention it? It’s a normal question to ask when someone dies.

    • Grace
      Grace says:

      I agree that the death of a public figure is public information, but it may be that the family is trying to prevent the grisly, horrible details of the manner of death from emerging and scarring the children. Personally, I didn’t need to know every last detail of how Robin Williams died. I am more interested in the demons he tried to fight before he made that fateful decision.

  40. ron tenin
    ron tenin says:

    My hunch is that his death is not a suicide. The timings all wrong for that sort of thing. Facebook has made lots of enemies..Sandberg, Zuckerberg. They are in bed with NSA..DOD…His death maybe more a part of the economic crisis and ww3 issues…but the msm will loathe to go there . Russia,China…lots of dynamics..economic warfare….

  41. Katie
    Katie says:

    When I had first read the tragic news and the “sudden unexpected” cause, I did briefly wonder if it was suicide. So thank you Penelope for having the guts to exploring the subject candidly when no one else has.

    I believe that this discussion is relevant because one of Penelope’s messages is that it is not entirely possible or harmonious for two parents to be both working equally hard, especially in the case of the man being less successful than the woman. Whereas Sheryl is the poster movement for proving it is possible to have an outwardly perfect life.

    IF it were suicide in this case, then it is possible that Goldberg was unhappy in his family life due to these roles (perhaps combined with depression due to other triggers). This is important to consider because Sheryl should stop perpetuating an unrealistic myth which only puts pressure on others to think it is achievable, when ultimately something gives way at a terrible cost.

    • Jackie
      Jackie says:

      Katie and Pen,

      I totally agreed and glad you 2 were brave and honest enough to bring the obvious out of the dark room.

  42. Maria
    Maria says:

    I dont like this post, because I sense Penelope did not have good intentions when she wrote this. This a negative and speculative post on a very sensible matter. It leaves a bad taste on the readers mouth… but, it is good for traffic. I usually find Penelope hilarious, but this post is of very poor taste and is pure speculation. A point less for Penelope´s credibility.

  43. Mark mcd
    Mark mcd says:

    Agreed. Sure he didn’t want to be the richest man in the cemetery.
    Peace on him

  44. Alison
    Alison says:

    This was one of the most complete and thought-provoking posts (along with arguments both pro and con) and resulting commentary I have read in a long time. Anything that intelligently brings suicide and its possible causes to light and discussion is doing far more good than harm. It is a terribly painful thing for all involved, but should not remain taboo, and if it leads just one depressed individual down the road to getting help it is worth it.

  45. Jill
    Jill says:

    That last sentence is awful, blaming and ignorant. Linking (alleged) suicide to leaning in? Come on.

    • jay
      jay says:

      Not sure what the intentions of the post, but my impression:

      It’s a poorly veiled attempt at feigning concern for the wider dialogue of depression, when really, the blogger has a more sinister agenda i.e. discredit the Lean In opinions. Criticism is good, but this whole post does not lend itself to anything meaningful – would expect something similar to be posted by TMZ.

      The last comment particularly lacks taste – it tries to simplify and undermine an incredibly complex thing such as mental health (which can have emotional and physiological triggers) and attribute it to a husband sharing equal household and parental duties with his wife.

  46. Mara Einstein
    Mara Einstein says:

    Shame on you!

    Most critics of Leaning In — and there are many — criticized the book and its premise when it came out.

    This post lacks simple human decency. It is click-bait of the worst order. I will be unsubscribing from you mailing list and I hope many others join me.

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous says:

      What a shock, -stein supports -berg, who was married to -berg, who was hired by another-berg, and tons of -steins work for the NY Times. You can leave the shtetl, but the shtetl never leaves you. Oy vey.

      • Anonymous
        Anonymous says:

        Anti Semitic sentiment in this thread is almost as disgusting as the original article. Stay classy “anonymous”. Hopefully someone reveals your true identity to your employer and friends so you can become the pariah you deserve to be.

  47. Shiva
    Shiva says:

    Another possibility is intentional or accidental drug overdose. Maybe he was using drugs, prescription drugs even, which when mixed with alcohol can get lethal very quickly.

    • Shiva
      Shiva says:

      Drug overdoses are also very embarrassing and could lead to censoring the “cause of death” in the media as his (possible) overdose would also harm her “Lean In” message.

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