Lithium in the public water supply and suicide mortality in Texas

J Psychiatr Res. 2013 Mar;47(3):407-11. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2012.12.002. Epub 2013 Jan 9.


There is increasing evidence from ecological studies that lithium levels in drinking water are inversely associated with suicide mortality. Previous studies of this association were criticized for using inadequate statistical methods and neglecting socioeconomic confounders. This study evaluated the association between lithium levels in the public water supply and county-based suicide rates in Texas. A state-wide sample of 3123 lithium measurements in the public water supply was examined relative to suicide rates in 226 Texas counties. Linear and Poisson regression models were adjusted for socioeconomic factors in estimating the association. Lithium levels in the public water supply were negatively associated with suicide rates in most statistical analyses. The findings provide confirmatory evidence that higher lithium levels in the public drinking water are associated with lower suicide rates. This association needs clarification through examination of possible neurobiological effects of low natural lithium doses.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lithium / analysis*
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Regression Analysis
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / epidemiology*
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / etiology
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / mortality*
  • Suicide*
  • Texas / epidemiology
  • Water Supply / analysis*


  • Lithium