Findings linking natural lithium to lower suicide rates unclear

LITHIUM in drinking water may be associated with lower rates of suicide, a study suggests.

An Austrian study has explored the correlation between suicide rates and lithium levels in drinking water from natural sources. 

The study of more than 6000 lithium measurements in 99 districts found they were inversely correlated with suicide mortality ratios. The finding remained significant after adjusting for socioeconomic factors such as population density and per capita income. 

“This study provides strong evidence that geographic regions with higher natural lithium concentrations in drinking water are associated with lower suicide mortality rates,” the authors said.

But these findings were not supported by those of a similar UK study, which showed lithium levels measured in one water sample from each of 47 subdivisions in the east of England were not associated with standardised suicide mortality ratios.