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Br J Psychiatry. 2015 Jul;207(1):64-71. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.114.152991. Epub 2015 May 7.

Lithium in drinking water and suicide mortality: interplay with lithium prescriptions.

Author information

1
Marco Helbich, PhD, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands; Michael Leitner, PhD, Department of Geography and Anthropology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; Nestor D. Kapusta, PhD, Department for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria m.helbich@uu.nl.
2
Marco Helbich, PhD, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands; Michael Leitner, PhD, Department of Geography and Anthropology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; Nestor D. Kapusta, PhD, Department for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Little is known about the effects of lithium intake through drinking water on suicide. This intake originates either from natural rock and soil elution and/or accumulation of lithium-based pharmaceuticals in ground water.

AIMS:

To examine the interplay between natural lithium in drinking water, prescribed lithium-based pharmaceuticals and suicide in Austria.

METHOD:

Spatial Bayesian regressions for males, females and pooled suicide mortality rates were estimated.

RESULTS:

Although the expected inverse association between lithium levels in drinking water and suicide mortality was confirmed for males and for total suicide rates, the relationship for females was not significant. The models do not indicate that lithium from prescriptions, assumed to accumulate in drinking water, is related to suicide risk patterns either as an individual effect or as a moderator of lithium levels in drinking water. Gender-specific differences in risk factors and local risk hot spots are confirmed.

CONCLUSIONS:

The findings do not support the hypotheses that lithium prescriptions have measureable protective effects on suicide or that they interact with lithium in drinking water.

PMID:
25953888
PMCID:
PMC4509557
DOI:
10.1192/bjp.bp.114.152991
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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