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To Better Treat Mental Health Issues, Larimer County Wants To Raise Taxes

Larry 'Flash' Alexander
Larimer County voters will decide on Issue 1A in November, which would raise sales taxes to pay for more mental health services.

Suicide has doubled in Larimer County since 2009 and its suicide rates are among the highest in the nation, according to local officials.

Laurie Stolen, the county's behavioral health project director, said that 90 percent of people who take their own lives have a diagnosable mental health issue. But Larimer County does not have enough behavioral health services to help those in need.

"Ultimately what we need to do is improve our mental health and our addiction services to really get to the root of the problems for why people are resorting to death by suicide," said Stolen.

The county also reports almost 27,000 residents needed but did not receive behavioral health care services in 2016.

There is an initiative on the November ballot that will address these problems. Issue 1A asks voters to pass a county wide 0.25 percent sales tax that would raise about $19 million a year for mental health services. The tax increase would last for 20 years.

Stolen said Issue 1A will pay for more resources in the county and build a hub of crisis services from detox centers to residential treatment.

"This 20-year tax will really help us fill in those critical gaps that we're seeing in our behavioral health care system here in Larimer County," she said.

Stolen will be the keynote speaker at Mental Health Matters in Fort Collins on Oct. 20. She said the free forum will give residents a chance to learn more about mental health and addiction issues before voting.

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