Water’s lithium rate may affect suicide rate

High amounts of lithium in tap water could keep the suicide rate low, a new study suggests.Researchers of Vienna’s Medical University (MedUni) found out that many areas with comparably higher amounts of the chemical element in tap water – which can be consumed across Austria – have a lower suicide rate than areas with less.The scientists stressed they considered sociological aspects such as average income rates and the local availability of psychological counselling which also play a part in avoiding high suicide rates. The team took more than 6,400 tap water samples all over the country.The university’s experts said their findings seem to confirm results of a controversial study carried out by researchers in Japan two years ago. The significance of the investigation in the Asian country was questioned by experts across the world at that time due to alleged mistakes considering scientists’ methodical approach.The Austrian team said today (Fri) they doubted claims that deliberate increase of lithium levels could have positive effects on the suicide rate regardless of their latest examination. The soft metal has been used to produce mood-stabilising drugs for decades.The number of suicides soared in Austria from the early 1960s to the mid-1980s to 24 cases per 100,000 inhabitants before it declined to around 13 incidents per 100,000 people. Statistics show that 1,280 Austrian men and women killed themselves last year. The number of people who lost their lives in traffic accidents was less than half this figure at 552.