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Although lithium is known to prevent suicide in people with mood disorders, it is uncertain whether lithium in drinking water could also help lower the risk in the general population. To investigate this, we examined lithium levels in tap water in the 18 municipalities of Oita prefecture in Japan in relation to the suicide standardised mortality ratio (SMR) in each municipality. We found that lithium levels were significantly and negatively associated with SMR averages for 2002–2006. These findings suggest that even very low levels of lithium in drinking water may play a role in reducing suicide risk within the general population.
A survey was conducted to investigate the presence of psychiatric symptoms and associated factors affecting psychiatric impairment among 2190 Japanese tax workers. The Japanese translated version of the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) was used as a measure of psychiatric symptomatology. Several sociodemographic and psychosocial factors (interpersonal factors and perceived stress) were examined as being related to psychiatric impairment. As with all other language versions, the percentage distribution of the GHQ scores was considerably skewed. Females exhibited more psychiatric symptoms than males. No significant differences were found among four age-groups for both sexes. Perceived stress related to the workplace was correlated more with psychiatric impairment than with other psychosocial factors. It was also observed that the ‘long-distance marriage’ (‘business bachelorhood’) peculiar to Japanese occupations had little influence on the impairment levels.
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