Traces of the chemical lithium in drinking water have been linked to lower suicide rates in a study.
By looking at 15 existing ecological studies related to lithium and suicide, the authors of a British Journal of Psychiatry study found a “consistent protective” association between the levels and / or concentrations of lithium in drinking water and rates of death by suicide.
The research included in their analysis were carried out in the U.S., Japan, Austria, England, Greece, Italy, and Lithuania, where drinking water samples were compared against official data on suicide deaths. The total populations involved in the respective studies ranged from 1,109,261 to 22,097,948, and the suicide mortality rates per 100,000 per year ranged from 7.53 to 27.
The results suggest the presence of the chemical in drinking water may protect against suicide at a population-wide level, the team said. Putting lithium in the public water for supply may be a way to test the hypothesis, particularly in areas with high levels of mental illness, violent crime, substance misuse, and suicide risk.
See the article:
Memon, A., Rogers, I., Fitzsimmons, S., Carter, B., Strawbridge, R., Hidalgo-Mazzei, D., & Young, A. (2020). Association between naturally occurring lithium in drinking water and suicide rates: Systematic review and meta-analysis of ecological studies. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 1-12. doi:10.1192/bjp.2020.128