In supplemental low-dose form…

Lithium Helps Prevent Suicide
By as much as 60%–80%

By Will Block

Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death for all ages in 2013. In that year there were 41,149 suicides in the United States, at the rate of 12.6 per 100,000. This amounts to 113 suicides each day—or one every 13 minutes. According to the Centers for Disease Control, as reported in the Wall Street Journal, “while more men kill themselves than women, the suicide rate for women rose faster between 1999 and 2014 than it did for men.” (Emphasis added.)1

Life Expectancy Decline Is Very Unusual

Alongside this, life expectancy declined slightly for white Americans in 2014, according to new federal data.2 Yet the life expectancy of Hispanics and Blacks rose. “The increase in death in this [white] segment of the population was great enough to affect life expectancy at birth for the whole group,” said Elizabeth Arias, the statistician at the National Center for Health Statistics who analyzed the data, referring to whites from their mid-20s to their mid-50s. “That is very unusual.”

The Main Drivers to the Road’s End

Dr. Arias, who is involved in a larger study of mortality trends over the past 15 years, said drug overdoses, liver disease, and suicide were the main drivers of the gloomy trends among whites in recent years, a pattern also found by other researchers. The white middle-age population is drinking and drugging themselves to death at an alarming rate.

Lithium-Suicide Studies Go Back 40 Years

Over the last few years, epidemiological studies done in a number of countries, including Japan, the U.S. (27 counties in Texas), and Austria, among others, indicate anti-suicidal properties of lithium when taken in drinking water.5 The same source cites literature indicating that risk reduction through lithium use might be as high as 60%–80%.


The white middle-age population is
drinking and drugging themselves to
death at an alarming rate.


Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw talked about this connection back in 2004 (see “Maintain your Brain the Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw Way, Part III” in the May 2004 issue). In this interview, they recounted the history of lithium for health purposes and cited, along with other scientific literature, Schrauzer GN, Shrestha KP. Lithium in drinking water and the incidences of crimes, suicides, and arrests related to drug addictions. Biol Trace Elem Res. 1990 May;25(2):105-13. Read “suicides” and “drug addictions” in the title.

The Antisuicidal Value of Lithium Drinking Water

As reported in a recent Japanese study, lithium in drinking water may be associated with the low risk of male suicide in the general population.6

In fact, an inverse association between lithium levels in drinking water and suicide rates was first reported in the United States in 27 Texas counties (see above reference, Schrauzer, 1990).

Also in Japan, in 2009 researchers showed the inverse association between lithium levels in drinking water and suicide rates for 18 municipalities of Oita prefecture.7 These findings suggest that even very low levels of lithium in drinking water may play a role in reducing suicide risk within the general population.

In a nationwide Austrian study involving 99 Austrian districts,8 researchers found an inverse association between lithium levels in drinking water and suicide rates after adjustment of population density, per capita income, and proportion of Roman Catholics, as well as the availability of mental health service providers.

Recently, the Austrian group confirmed an inverse association between lithium levels in drinking water and suicide rates after adjustment of county-based population density, age, gender, race/ethnicity, median income per household, and poverty—the so-called global spatial regression model.9


These findings indicate that levels of
lithium in drinking water might have
a protective effect on the risk of
suicide among females.


There is growing evidence from ecological/epidemiological studies that lithium levels in drinking water are inversely associated with suicide mortality.

One of these studies10 evaluated the association between lithium levels in the public water supply and county-based suicide rates in Texas (the same terrain as the Schrauzer, 1990 study). A state-wide sample of 3123 lithium measurements in the public water supply was examined relative to suicide rates in 226 Texas counties. It was found that lithium levels in the public water supply were negatively associated with suicide rates in most statistical analyses. These results confirm evidence that higher lithium levels in the public drinking water are associated with lower suicide rates.

In another Austrian study11 a relationship between lithium and altitude provided estimates at the district-level for Austria where spatial autocorrelation was accounted for through spatial filtering. The study showed a negative association between lithium levels and altitude, and a negative association of lithium levels and suicide mortality.

Altitude was found to be positively associated with suicide mortality. On the other hand, lithium effects on suicide mortality were moderated by altitude. In lower altitude regions, the effect turned out to be negatively related to suicide mortality, while in high-altitude regions, lithium had a positive association.

These results provide evidence that the relationship between lithium, altitude and suicide rates is more complex than hitherto assumed.

Very recently, a study was performed in a particular prefecture of Japan that was noted for having the highest rates of suicide mortality in the country.12 This study evaluated the association between lithium levels in tap water and the suicide standardized mortality ratio (SMR) in 40 municipalities of Aomori prefecture.

Lithium levels in the tap water of each municipality were measured using plasma-mass spectrometry. A statistical trend was found between lithium levels and the average SMR among females. These findings indicate that levels of lithium in drinking water might have a protective effect on the risk of suicide among females.

Even more recently, 149 samples of drinking water were collected from 34 of 52 prefectures in Greece and the results also confirmed the inverse association between lithium levels in drinking water and suicide rates.13 Considering the results of a previous study,14 which showed an inverse association between the lithium levels in drinking water and the incidence of suicide, homicide, rape, and drug abuse, the authors suggested that lithium intake may influence impulsiveness, a factor that contributes to both suicidality and aggressiveness.

Based on data about suicides in 16 National Violent Death Reporting System states in 2010, 33.4% of suicide decedents tested positive for alcohol, 23.8% for antidepressants, and 20.0% for opiates, including heroin and prescription pain killers. Suicide results in an estimated $51 billion in combined medical and work loss costs.15


From mineral springs in BC, Canada, with the highest content of lithium comes “Happy Water.”
Recently, a series of studies on anti-suicidal properties of lithium in drinking water have ignited interest among researchers. In reference #6, Ishii and colleagues present further evidence that even low lithium doses—or rather, doses of lithium at a supplemental level—might have their place in suicide prevention.

There is some evidence from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) supporting lithium in therapeutic doses as a suicide preventative in individuals with unipolar depression, bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, dysthymia, or rapid cycling. Furthermore, recent meta-analyses16–18 suggest that the risk reduction of suicide by lithium might be as high as 60%–80%.

The important point with studies like the one presented by Ishii and colleagues6 is that lithium contents of tap water range up to 1 mg or more of dissolved lithium per liter per day (1 L of water with 1 mg/L lithium per day corresponds to 6.9 mg lithium carbonate per day), depending on the geographic origin of the drinking water. Given the assumption that individuals drink not more than 2 L water per day (corresponding to a daily dose of 13.8 mg lithium carbonate by mouth), such an intake would result in a daily dose of approximately 1% of a therapeutic lithium dose.


Doses of lithium at a supplemental
level—might have their place in
suicide prevention.


Mood and Happiness Is Key

It is also likely that effects of lithium on suicide in low-dose trials would be lower than those in established standard-dose trials, thus further limiting the power of such prospective studies. Therefore, prospective standard- and low-dose lithium trials for suicidal ideation or suicide attempts still remain a challenge.

Low-Dose Lithium for Happiness

Clinical evidence of low-dose lithium is growing for Alzheimer’s dementia. Similar to bipolar patients on continuous standard doses of lithium who—when compared to patients without lithium—were found to be less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease stabilized their cognitive impairment with even low doses of lithium (300 μg/d by mouth) over 15 months.19Although the effects of low-dose lithium supplementation are still not well understood, it is reasonable to consider supplementation with lithium for persons from lithium-depreciated regions. A minimum daily requirement of 1,000 µg of dissolved lithium per day for healthy adults has been postulated by Schrauzer,20 who conducted the Texas drinking waters study.

Violence and Firearms

Violence—particularly firearm violence—leading to suicide and homicide is a significant problem the world over. Much suicidal and homicidal violence involves males; homicidal violence is prevalent among young men, and suicide is the leading cause of violence worldwide.21

Lithium, has been used successfully for decades to treat bipolar disorders—however at pharmacological doses—and has been shown to decrease violent crime in this situation.

What’s new, lithium, in trace amounts as occurs in some drinking water, has been inversely related to aggression and suicidal and homicidal violence, in amounts from nearly zero to 3 mg daily.


The risk reduction of suicide by
lithium might be as high as
60%–80%.


Improves Mood

Elemental lithium, in trace doses, can improve mood in weeks. Moreover, in trace amounts, lithium has no toxicity. In order to ensure adequate dietary intakes of elemental lithium daily for the purpose of decreasing aggression and violence, we propose that lithium be added to vitamin preparations for adults.

If you don’t want to lose hope—whatever your situation—make sure that low-dose lithium is in your choice of supplements.

The Loss of Hope

Interest in the increase and redistribution of suicide has been growing. In 2013, in Psychology Today, Dr. Dale Archer wrote “Just because a person attempts suicide doesn’t mean they want to die. Rather, often they have lost what I call the ‘power of hope.’

“When faced with a bad situation that has no end in sight, coupled with the helpless feeling that nothing you can do will make a difference, it’s all too easy to lose hope. At that point, suicide for some becomes a viable option rather than continuing to face the constant pain and suffering that life has become. If you can give someone who is contemplating suicide merely the glimmer of hope, that is often enough to get them through the rough patch to consider other options.” (Emphasis added.)3

Business Death Rate Exceeds Birth Rate

Also, according to Gallup,4 for the first time since the statistics were collected, the death rate of small businesses is greater than the birth rate. Due to massive mal-investments of capital, the actual productivity of American workers has been dropping. This has gone on for over ten years. Nothing like this has ever happened before, at least probably not since the dying days of the Roman Empire.


No hope of a better future leads to
alcoholism, drug abuse, and suicide.


This means that the future has been destroyed for many people. No hope of a better future leads to alcoholism, drug abuse, and suicide.

If this had been happening to any group other than white males without college education, it would have been broadcast as a national health crisis.

This is exactly the deadly demographic pattern that appeared during and following the collapse of the USSR. This lethal process of collapse is already happening in America, and while the USA has not (yet) formally collapsed, the deadly process that happened in the former Soviet Union is happening here. And it is happening now. [Thanks to Durk Pearson for his insights.]

Unique to the United States

A paper in PNAS last year reflected, “… a marked increase in the all-cause mortality of middle-aged white non-Hispanic men and women in the United States between 1999 and 2013. This change reversed decades of progress in mortality and was unique to the United States; no other rich country saw a similar turnaround. The midlife mortality reversal was confined to white non-Hispanics; black non-Hispanics and Hispanics at midlife, and those aged 65 and above in every racial and ethnic group continued to see mortality rates fall.”

What’s Going On in Nevada

American suicide rates increased 1% per year from 1999 to 2006, and increased 2% per year from 2006 to 2014. The increase was especially great for males aged 45-64 (we all have a pretty good idea of what is happening here), and the rate tripled for girls aged 10-14. Tripled! 10-14! The increase in suicide rates for boys 10-14 was far smaller.

We have the same problem here in rural Nevada; the means tested “social safety net” effectively imposes marginal tax rates of 80-240% for on-the-books earnings. Even though this is officially a poor area income-wise, it is very difficult to find anyone who will show up for work on a regular and reliable basis. And it isn’t just government welfare that is sapping motivation.


This exact same pattern befell
Russia during the collapse of the
Soviet Union.


Millennials who live in their parents’ homes don’t have to worry about that rent or mortgage check every month, or even paying for food. As soon as they get enough money for that new iPhone or trail bike repair, they will often disappear in the middle of a job that they promised to complete. Worse yet, if they got a job with a paycheck, they would have to start paying off their crushing school loans. What’s the point of working? The percentage of Americans working full time is back to what it was during the early 1970s, before women joined the job market en mass.

No Hope

In sum, the future has been destroyed for many people. No hope of a better future leads to suicide, alcoholism, and drug abuse.

We are seeing a huge rise in mortality among the white middle aged middle class, with suicide, drug overdoses, alcoholism, liver failure, and related diseases being the drivers. This exact same pattern befell Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Union. No Hope, no future, why try to go on? [Again, thanks to Durk Pearson for his thoughts on this subject.]

References

  1. Mckay B. Suicides in the U.S. climb after years of declines: Rate increased 24% between 1999 and 2014, continued to rise in first half of 2015. The Wall Street Journal. April 22, 2016. http://www.wsj.com/articles/suicides-in-the-u-s-climb-after-years-of-declines-1461297661.
  2. Travernise S. White Americans are dying younger as drug and alcohol abuse rises. The New York Times, April 20, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/20/health/life-expectancy-decline-mortality.html.
  3. Archer D, White, Middle-Age Suicide In America Skyrockets. May 6, 2013. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/reading-between-the-headlines/201305/white-middle-age-suicide-in-america-skyrockets
  4. Clifton J. American Entrepreneurship: Dead or Alive? Business Journal. January 13, 2015. http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/180431/american-entrepreneurship-dead-alive.aspx
  5. Kapusta ND, König D. Naturally occurring low-dose lithium in drinking water. J Clin Psychiatry. 2015 Mar;76(3):e373-4.
  6. Ishii N, Terao T, Araki Y, Kohno K, Mizokami Y, Shiotsuki I, Hatano K, Makino M, Kodama K, Iwata N. Low risk of male suicide and lithium in drinking water. J Clin Psychiatry. 2015 Mar;76(3):319-26.
  7. Ohgami H, Terao T, Shiotsuki I, Ishii N, Iwata N. Lithium levels in drinking water and risk of suicide. Br J Psychiatry. 2009 May;194(5):464-5; discussion 446.
  8. Kapusta ND, Mossaheb N, Etzersdorfer E, Hlavin G, Thau K, Willeit M, Praschak-Rieder N, Sonneck G, Leithner-Dziubas K. Lithium in drinking water and suicide mortality. Br J Psychiatry. 2011 May;198(5):346-50.
  9. Helbich M, Leitner M, Kapusta ND. Geospatial examination of lithium in drinking water and suicide mortality. Int J Health Geogr. 2012 Jun 13;11:19.
  10. Blüml V, Regier MD, Hlavin G, Rockett IR, König F, Vyssoki B, Bschor T, Kapusta ND. Lithium in the public water supply and suicide mortality in Texas. J Psychiatr Res. 2013 Mar;47(3):407-11.
  11. Helbich M, Blüml V, Leitner M, Kapusta ND. Does altitude moderate the impact of lithium on suicide? A spatial analysis of Austria. Geospat Health. 2013 May;7(2):209-18.
  12. Sugawara N, Yasui-Furukori N, Ishii N, Iwata N, Terao T. Lithium in tap water and suicide mortality in Japan. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2013 Nov 12;10(11):6044-8.
  13. Giotakos O, Tsouvelas G, Nisianakis P, Giakalou V, Lavdas A, Tsiamitas C, Panagiotis K, Kontaxakis V. A negative association between lithium in drinking water and the incidences of homicides, in Greece. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2015 Apr;164(2):165-8.
  14. Giotakos O, Nisianakis P, Tsouvelas G, Giakalou VV. Lithium in the public water supply and suicide mortality in Greece. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2013 Dec;156(1-3):376-9.
  15. CDC. Suicide, 2015. http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/suicide-datasheet-a.pdf
  16. Cipriani A, Pretty H, Hawton K, et al. Lithium in the prevention of suicidal behavior and all-cause mortality in patients with mood disorders: a systematic review of randomized trials. Am J Psychiatry. 2005;162(10):1805–1819.
  17. Baldessarini RJ, Tondo L, Davis P, et al. Decreased risk of suicides and attempts during long-term lithium treatment: a meta-analytic review. Bipolar Disord. 2006;8(5, pt 2):625–639.
  18. Cipriani A, Hawton K, Stockton S, et al. Lithium in the prevention of suicide in mood disorders: updated systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2013;346(4):f3646. doi:10.136/bmj.f3646
  19. Nunes PV, Forlenza OV, Gattaz WF. Lithium and risk for Alzheimer’s disease in elderly patients with bipolar disorder. Br J Psychiatry. 2007;190(4):359–360.
  20. Schrauzer GN. Lithium: occurrence, dietary intakes, nutritional essentiality. J Am Coll Nutr. 2002;21(1):14–21.
  21. Goldstein MR, Mascitelli L. Is violence in part a lithium deficiency state? Med Hypotheses. 2016 Apr;89:40-2.


Will Block is the publisher and editorial director of Life Enhancement magazine.

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