Lithium in drinking water lowers suicide rate

The result of a study by Japanese scientists leads to the discussion of whether people should be forced to take drugs to improve their physical or mental health

Suicide rate is particularly high in Japan. About 30.000 Japanese end their lives every year since 1998, when there had been a jump upward. In 2006, according to the WHO, there were 29.921 people, two-thirds men, who did not want to go on living: about 100 people a day. That is 23.7 per 100.000 people (among men as many as 34.8). In 2007, more than 33.In 2008, there was a slight drop to 32,000 people (34.8 for men).249 to be recorded. In January 2009, however, there were 2.645 people, 15 percent more than in the same month in 2008 – possibly due to the recession. There is talk of a suicide epidemic in Japan.

Lithuania surpasses Japan with 38.6 suicides per 100.000 inhabitants. The suicide rate in Russia is also very high (32.2). In Germany, which occupies a middle position, 13 out of every 100 people commit suicide.000 people, and the trend is downward. But again, the number of men who break up is much higher than the number of women. While in Germany the age group over 65 and above all over 75 years predominates among the people committing suicide, among the Russians it is the 45-54 year olds and the over 75 year olds, among the Japanese the age group 55-64 years old is the most dangerous, i.e. when the working life comes to an end and retirement begins or is in prospect.

So it is not the young people who arrange to commit suicide via the Internet who make up the bulk of the lifemongers. This has caused a stir for several years and has led to stricter control of the Internet (suicide conspiracy on the Internet). A new method seems to be the use of deadly hydrogen sulfide, which can be made from household products such as toilet cleaners and bath salts. But this can also endanger neighbors and rescue workers.

In any case, it is no wonder that Japanese scientists have come up with a proposal to fight the epidemic, which could possibly be effective, but in any case has opened the door to a new kind of mass infection, the likes of which have so far only been thought up by science fiction writers, probably most impressively by Stanislaw Lem in the "Futurological Congress".

As is well known, lithium has long been used as a drug for the treatment of severe mental disorders and especially depression. It has also been proven that taking it reduces the risk of suicide. However, a number of side effects can occur, especially if the dosage is too high.

Japanese psychologists and psychiatrists from the Universities of Oita and Hiroshima have now found, as they report in the British Journal of Psychiatry, that even small amounts of lithium can reduce the tendency to suicide.

For their study, they analyzed the drinking water of 18 municipalities in Oita Prefecture on Kyushu Island for naturally occurring concentrations of lithium. The different values, which varied considerably and ranged from 0.7 were as high as 59 micrograms per liter, they compared with the suicide rates of communities. The result for the years 2002 to 2006: The communities with the highest lithium values in the drinking water had the lowest suicide rates. Even if the concentration is very low, the constant intake could have a cumulative effect, according to the scientists’ amption.

Of course, it would have been interesting to find out whether there were any more "side effects" of the higher lithium uptake through the drinking water. However, the scientists are apparently less interested in this, and are probably thinking more of an application of their research result and indirectly suggesting that a little lithium could be added to drinking water in general to prevent suicide. This could also be such small doses that there is a long-term antisuicidal effect, but the lithium does not affect the mood otherwise.

Directly proposing to forcefully influence all people in this region by supplying medicinal substances in the drinking water was probably too delicate for the scientists. In an editorial in the same ie of the journal, however, Allan Young of the Institute for Mental Health in Vancouver attempts to open the door a little wider. The results should stimulate further research, he writes, referring to mass trials of adding lithium to drinking water. This has been the subject of debate, but the possible "possible benefits for mental health could be considerable".

There have been heated discussions about adding fluorine to drinking water to prevent tooth decay, which is also thought to protect against osteoporosis. In the USA, Ireland or Switzerland, people are forced to take their "Gluck" allegedly with the result that tooth decay has decreased. However, fluorine, like lithium, is found in varying concentrations in drinking water and other foods anyway, and is often added to toothpaste or salt. The problem arises when people consume too much fluoride, but it is controversial whether people can be treated without their consent, even if there is no risk and it should be decided democratically by a majority.

Even the addition of fluorine is highly questionable from a medical, moral and political point of view. The step from fluorine to lithium would have been an even bigger mistake, since it would have influenced the behavior of the nuclear program. Soon one would go from suicide prevention to the stabilization of feelings or, in order to achieve standing advantages and reduce expenses, to drugs that not only prevent diseases but also, for example, increase physical and cognitive performance. From other possibilities of manipulation "boser" Powerful plants, of course, would need an alternative supply of drinking water if they did not want to treat themselves forcibly.

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