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Tony Hass walks through his horse paddock on his ranch . In southwest Colorado, the suicide rate is 31.8 per 100,000 residents, compared with 20.2 per 100,000 statewide. A state survey indicated in Las Animas County, which does not have a practicing psychologist, more than 1 in 6 say they suffer from poor mental health, according to the Colorado Rural Health Center. (Parker Seibold/The Gazette)

  • More than 750,000 people live in Colorado’s rural or frontier counties, out of a state population of nearly 5.7 million, according to the Colorado Rural Health Center, a nonprofit that tries to rally local, state and federal partners around solutions.
  • Colorado is ranked 10th among states for suicides with 20.2 for each 100,000 residents. In southwest Colorado, the suicide rate is 31.8 for 100,000 residents. The statistical region that includes Elbert, Lincoln, Kit Carson and Cheyenne counties has a rate of 28.7.
  • In 2016, Huerfano County, home to just 6,600 residents, had the highest rate of overdose deaths, 152.6 per 100,000. Nine of the 10 counties with the highest overdose deaths have populations of less than 50,000. 
  • Rural counties are some of the state’s poorest and least insured, nearly twice the rate of urban counties. In Costillo County, for example, 78% of the population depends on providers who take Medicaid or Medicare. Nine of the state’s 10 poorest counties are on the eastern plains and San Luis Valley. 
  • In rural Colorado, there is one mental health provider for every 1,282 residents. In urban areas, with all their advantages to proximity and anonymity, there is one mental health provider for every 755 residents, according to the Rural Health Center.
  • 22 rural counties don’t have a licensed psychologist, with 11 of those in the San Luis Valley and the southeast corner of the state plus seven in the rural northeast corner of the state, the center reports.
  • 24 counties do not have a licensed addiction counselor, including six in the San Luis Valley and southeast Colorado, plus seven in the northeast corner of the state.
  • 22 counties don’t have a social worker, including six in the San Luis Valley and southeast corner and in northeast Colorado.
  • 11 counties don’t have a hospital at all, let alone mental health beds. — Joey Bunch

Contact Joey Bunch at joey.bunch@coloradopolitics.com or follow him on Twitter @joeybunch.

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Colorado Politics senior political reporter

Joey Bunch is the senior correspondent and deputy managing editor of Colorado Politics. His 32-year career includes the last 16 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and he is a two-time finalist.

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