Lithium in drinking water and suicide rates across the East of England

Br J Psychiatry. 2011 May;198(5):406-7. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.110.088617.

Abstract

Lithium can be found naturally in drinking water. In clinical practice, it is widely used in pharmacological doses for the treatment of bipolar disorder; and may also prevent suicidal behaviour in people with mood disorders. In two studies, lithium levels in tap water have been significantly and negatively correlated with suicide. We measured lithium levels in tap water in the 47 subdivisions of the East of England and correlated these with the respective suicide standardised mortality ratio in each subdivision. We found no association between lithium in drinking water and suicide rates across the East of England from 2006 to 2008.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lithium / analysis*
  • Male
  • Mood Disorders / drug therapy
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Suicide / trends
  • Water Supply / analysis*

Substances

  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Lithium