[Anti-suicidal effect of lithium: current state of research and its clinical implications for the long-term treatment of affective disorders]

Nervenarzt. 2013 Mar;84(3):294-306. doi: 10.1007/s00115-012-3542-5.
[Article in German]


Treatment of patients with suicidal behaviour is one of the most challenging tasks for health care professionals. Due to the high mortality, morbidity and costs related to suicide, the development of treatment and preventive strategies for suicidal behaviour have been a focus of psychiatric research. For lithium, one of the oldest pharmacological agents used in psychiatry, anti-suicidal effects have been found since the early 90s in many international studies. Despite this unambiguous evidence and corresponding recommendations in national and international guidelines for the acute and maintenance therapy of affective disorders, the use of lithium is still underrepresented. The following article provides a review of studies investigating the anti-suicidal effects of lithium in affective disorders. Clinical implications for the treatment of affective disorders are discussed.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Humans
  • Lithium Compounds / therapeutic use*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Mood Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Mood Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Suicide Prevention*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Lithium Compounds