Happy Hour Could Last All Day

Much of the world is feeling the economic pressure with lack of jobs, home equity shrinking, and no sign of politicians getting on with their job effectively. The speculators seem to be having it all their own way. Ireland was riding high just a few short years ago and now their austerity measures are resulting in a lot of glum faces.

The Irish Times reported a few days ago that the suicide rate in Ireland last year was 8 to 10 times higher than in the ‘60s (1). These were figures discussed at a metal health forum held in County Clare. Dr. Bhamjee urged the members of the forum to recommend that the politicians should act to reduce the rate by running an experiment to add Lithium salts to the water supply of a town to determine the best level to control the depression of the population and thereby reduce the suicide rate (1,2).

After all, the government was already adding fluoride, so this would not be much of a philosophical change. It could help the 200,000 depressed Irish and there would be no chance of getting addicted to the drinking water, as the Lithium levels would be very low. It is well that he didn’t suggest it be added to the Guinness.

To those of us already spending far too much money on bottled water, the proposal will be making us nervous, but it is backed up by two studies both indicating good results that more Lithium meant fewer suicides.

One study was done in Texas a long time ago by Schrauzer and Shresha in Biol. Trace Elements Res. 105, 25 1990 using data from 1978 – 1987 (3). They found levels between 70 and 170 µg/L reduced not only the suicide rate, but also the rates of rape and homicide. They followed this up with analysis of the 1981 – 1986 data to show that arrests for possession of “hard” drugs were lower in those areas, although drink-driving and marijuana possession rates were unaffected.

The other study was more recent and was carried out by Prof. Terao and his team of the Oita prefecture in Japan. This study is published in the Brit. J. of Psychiatry, 464, 194, 2009 (4). They confirmed the trend for a reduced suicide rate and indicated that 50µg/L would do the job. They did not, however, check crime statistics. 

They did note that the lithium, which was naturally occurring in the water (as it was in Texas), had been drunk for a long time and that was why such low levels were sufficient.If our politicians decide to dose us before the results of the next election are known, it may well be at a higher rate.

  1. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/1202/1224308474582.html
  2. http://www.improbable.com/page/2/
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1699579
  4. http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/194/5/464.full

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