This Friday I was at a small gathering of Christian men and women and heard a story that stopped me short. One of the attendees was a Christian businessman who employed mainly working-class young men. When he had spoken to his workers about their holiday plans, a full fourth of the men he talked to didn’t have any plans at all. Thanksgiving or Christmas or New Year’s Day was just another day. They’d go home, watch television, play video games, and drink—all alone.
As soon as he said those words, I thought of a chart. I know that sounds strange, but stay with me. It’s from 2017, and it comes from Sen. Mike Lee’s invaluable Social Capital Project. It should transform the way you think about America’s epidemic of “deaths of despair.” It represents the demographics of overdoses:
As the slides progress, you notice a few things immediately—men overdose far more than women, single men overdose more than married men, and single men with only a high school education or GED overdose at a simply staggering rate. That rate is horrifying regardless of whether a person was single and never married or single and divorced (though, interestingly, the overdose rate for a widowed person was substantially lower).