A consultant psychiatrist last night called on Government to add lithium salts to the public water supply in a bid to lower the suicide rate and depression among the general population.
At a mental health forum on “Depression in Rural Ireland” in Ennistymon, Co Clare, Dr Moosajee Bhamjee said that “there is growing scientific evidence that adding trace amounts of the drug lithium to a water supply can lower rates of suicide and depression”.
Lithium is used by doctors as a mood stabiliser in the treatment for depression.
Dr Bhamjee said: “A recent article in the British Journal of Psychiatry found the beneficial uses of lithium when it was added to the water supply in parts of Texas.”
He said the Government should consider a pilot project for a town in Ireland where lithium salts could be added to the water in very small doses and examine the results.” He said there was already strong precedent for governments intervening in the operation of public water supply for health benefits by adding fluoride.
Dr Bhamjee said that a community would not get “hooked” on lithium “because the doses would be so small”.