LONDON, May 1 (UPI) -- Japanese researchers say low levels of lithium found naturally in some water systems may help prevent suicides.
A study at Oita University in Japan, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, found natural lithium levels ranging from 0.7 micrograms to 59 micrograms per liter in 18 communities in southern Japan, The (London) Daily Telegraph reported Friday.
Researchers found the suicide rate was significantly lower in communities whose water contained larger amounts of lithium.
High doses of the naturally occurring metal are used to treat bipolar and mood disorders.
The findings have led some researchers to call for further study to consider the public health benefits of adding lithium to drinking water supplies, the newspaper said.