Every 10.9 minutes, someone in America fatally harms themselves, with suicide ranking as the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.[1]. Worldwide, suicide contributes to 1-4 % of deaths every year.[2]

The conventional medicine approach to treat suicidal thoughts involves prescription medications to prevent mood swings, or to decrease anxiety or depression. As such, these drugs are panaceas that only treat the symptoms – not the cause, and frequently are taken for a lifetime. In addition, many of these drugs have persistent adverse effects – such as agitation, insomnia, headache, fatigue, weight gain, and more. Oftentimes to the patient, these unsettling side effects can be debilitating because they greatly compromise quality of life.

A functional and integrative medical perspective to suicide prevention first assesses the individual for physiological as well as psychiatric and psychological imbalances – identifying biomarkers and behaviors that are suggestive of the underlying biological basis of the increased risk of self-harm. To address the identified factors, an individualized treatment program may include natural, nondrug therapies, supervised by a clinician to tailor the regimen to achieve optimum therapeutic results. This approach honors biochemical individuality and can transform psychiatry into a medical discipline that can be quantified such that personalized, biologically targeted interventions address the root causes of mental health issues..

Dr. James M. Greenblatt, MD, a dually certified child and adult psychiatrist, has more than three decades of clinical experience in the utilization of functional and integrative medical protocols to address psychiatric disorders. Low-dose (microdose) nutritional lithium is one of the essential therapies in his Integrative Toolbox.

The healing properties of lithium have been recognized for centuries. Soranus, a physician in Ephesus in ancient times, administered local spring water to manic patients, in whom he observed distinct behavioral improvements. Largely ignored for the next 2000 years, in 1949 the Australian psychiatrist John Cade rediscovered lithium’s psychiatric potential. In 2018, a University of Queensland (Australia) lecturer presents “mounting evidence that lithium may be a crucial trace element,” reporting that it “necessary for optimum brain functioning” and “may be neuroprotective.”[3]

Three new peer-reviewed meta-analyses report that naturally occurring lithium in drinking water associates with lower suicide rates. These assessments independently confirm the 30-year long clinical work of Dr. Greenblatt in utilizing nondrug lithium in patients at-risk for suicide.

In the July 2020 issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, researchers from the Brighton and Sussex Medical School (United Kingdom) and Kings College London published a meta-review of 415 articles spanning a 40-year period that involved lithium levels in drinking water and suicide mortality rates.[4] Their data analysis “showed a consistent protective (or inverse) association between lithium levels/concentration in publicly available drinking water and total, male, and female suicide mortality rates (pooled).” The team submits that: “Naturally occurring lithium in drinking water may have the potential to reduce the risk of suicide and may possibly help in mood stabilization …” and may be specifically important in geographies “with demonstrated high prevalence of mental health conditions, violent criminal behaviour, chronic substance misuse and risk of suicide.”

In a June 2020 online release in-advance of its September 2020 print publication in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Review, Italian scientists assessed data presented in 918 studies involving more than 63,000 subjects, covering lithium therapy as present in drinking water for mood disorder.[5] Their review found that “Most of the observational studies reported a reduction in suicide in patients with mood disorders. All studies about lithium treatment’s duration reported that long-term lithium give more benefits than short-term lithium in suicide risk.” They conclude that: “The evidence seems to attribute an intrinsic anti-suicidal property of lithium, independent of its proven efficacy as a mood stabilizer.”

Writing in the March 1, 2020 issue of Journal of Affective Disorders, Iranian scientists assessed 308 published studies of lithium in drinking water and suicide incidence in the general population,[6] The team found “a significant relationship was found between the lithium concentration in drinking water and reduced suicide mortality,” with 10 of the studies reflecting gender-specific effects.

 

References

[1] “Facts and Statistics,” American Association of Suicidology, accessed at: https://suicidology.org/facts-and-statistics/

[2] Del Matto L, Muscas M, Murru A, Verdolini N, Anmella G, Fico G, Corponi F, Carvalho AF, Samalin L, Carpiniello B, Fagiolini A, Vieta E, Pacchiarotti I. Lithium and suicide prevention in mood disorders and in the general population: A systematic review. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2020 Sep;116:142-153. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2020.06.017. Epub 2020 Jun 16.

[3] Peter Devadason. Is There a Role for Lithium Orotate in Psychiatry? Aust N Z J Psychiatry, 2018 Dec;52(12):1107-1108. doi: 10.1177/0004867418810185. Epub 2018 Nov 8.

[4] Memon A, Rogers I, Fitzsimmons SMDD, Carter B, Strawbridge R, Hidalgo-Mazzei D, Young AH. Association between naturally occurring lithium in drinking water and suicide rates: systematic review and meta-analysis of ecological studies. Br J Psychiatry. 2020 Jul 27:1-12. doi: 10.1192/bjp.2020.128.

[5] Del Matto L, Muscas M, Murru A, Verdolini N, Anmella G, Fico G, Corponi F, Carvalho AF, Samalin L, Carpiniello B, Fagiolini A, Vieta E, Pacchiarotti I. Lithium and suicide prevention in mood disorders and in the general population: A systematic review. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2020 Sep;116:142-153. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2020.06.017. Epub 2020 Jun 16.

[6] Barjasteh-Askari F, Davoudi M, Amini H, Ghorbani M, Yaseri M, Yunesian M, Mahvi AH, Lester D. Relationship between suicide mortality and lithium in drinking water: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Affect Disord. 2020 Mar 1;264:234-241. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2019.12.027.