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Lithium levels in drinking water and risk of suicide

  • Hirochika Ohgami (a1), Takeshi Terao (a1), Ippei Shiotsuki (a1), Nobuyoshi Ishii (a1) and Noboru Iwata (a2)...

Summary

Although lithium is known to prevent suicide in people with mood disorders, it is uncertain whether lithium in drinking water could also help lower the risk in the general population. To investigate this, we examined lithium levels in tap water in the 18 municipalities of Oita prefecture in Japan in relation to the suicide standardised mortality ratio (SMR) in each municipality. We found that lithium levels were significantly and negatively associated with SMR averages for 2002–2006. These findings suggest that even very low levels of lithium in drinking water may play a role in reducing suicide risk within the general population.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Professor Takeshi Terao, Department of Neuropsychiatry, Oita University Faculty of Medicine, Idaigaoka 1-1, Hasama-machi, Yufu, Oita, 879-5593, Japan. Email: terao@med.oita-u.ac.jp

Footnotes

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See invited commentary, p. 466, this issue.

Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes

References

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1 Cipriani, A, Pretty, H, Hawton, K, Geddes, JR. Lithium in the prevention of suicidal behavior and all-cause mortality in patients with mood disorders: a systematic review of randomized trials. Am J Psychiatry 2005; 162: 1805–19.
2 Baldessarini, RJ, Tondo, L, Davis, P, Pompili, M, Goodwin, FK, Hennen, J. Decreased risk of suicides and attempts during long-term lithium treatment: a meta-analytic review. Bipolar Disord 2006; 8: 625–39.
3 Guzzetta, F, Tondo, L, Centorrino, F, Baldessarini, RJ. Lithium treatment reduces suicide risk in recurrent major depressive disorder. J Clin Psychiatry 2007; 68: 380–3.
4 Schrauzer, GN, Shrestha, KP. Lithium in drinking water and the incidences of crimes, suicides, and arrests related to drug addictions. Biol Trace El Res 1990; 25: 105–13.
5 Müller-Oerlinghausen, B, Felber, W, Berghöfer, A, Lauterbach, E, Ahrens, B. The impact of lithium long-term medication on suicidal behavior and mortality of bipolar patients. Arch Suicide Res 2005; 9: 307–19.

Lithium levels in drinking water and risk of suicide

  • Hirochika Ohgami (a1), Takeshi Terao (a1), Ippei Shiotsuki (a1), Nobuyoshi Ishii (a1) and Noboru Iwata (a2)...

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Lithium levels in drinking water and risk of suicide

  • Hirochika Ohgami (a1), Takeshi Terao (a1), Ippei Shiotsuki (a1), Nobuyoshi Ishii (a1) and Noboru Iwata (a2)...
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