LITHIUM in drinking water has been linked with lower suicide rates, Sussex scientists say.

The metal is widely used as medication for manic and depressive episodes.

Now a new global study from Brighton and Sussex Medical School has found areas with naturally-occurring lithium in public drinking water had lower suicide rates.

Lead author Professor Anjum Memon said: “It is promising higher levels of trace lithium in drinking water may exert an anti-suicidal effect and have the potential to improve community mental health.

“In these unprecedented times, accessing ways to improve community mental health and reduce the incidence of anxiety, depression and suicide is ever more important.”

Prof Memon said the next steps might include testing of lithium supplements in the water supply, particularly in communities with high prevalence of mental health conditions, violent criminal behaviour, chronic substance abuse and risk of suicide.

The study was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

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