Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee has vowed to enhance mental healthcare in the city after two women were killed in a brutal stabbing at a Diamond Hill mall last Friday.

diamond hill stabbing
Stabbing at Diamond Hill on JingFile photo: Internet.

A 39-year-old man with the surname Szeto was arrested soon after the incident, in which two women aged 22 and 26 died. Local media reported that he was suffering from a serious mental health disorder.

Szeto appeared at Kwun Tong Magistrates’ Courts on Monday morning, charged with two counts of murder. At the prosecution’s request, he was sent to Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre and the case case adjourned to June 19 pending psychiatric reports.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Lee said that the government would step up efforts in four areas.

“First, I request the police to do more patrolling in the urban areas, increasing the citizens’ confidence on law and order in the city. Second, the Health Bureau and Hospital Authority will review and improve the treatment, rehabilitation services and process for psychiatric patients,” Lee said.

Lee added that the Health Bureau would call a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Mental Health as soon as possible to explore “more comprehensive” ways to deal with mental health issues in the city.

john lee press conference
Chief Executive John Lee. File photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Lee also said that the Social Welfare Department would strengthen the community support services of 24 Integrated Community Centres for Mental Wellness. He added that the department had already contacted the family members of the victims and would provide help for them.

Attacks on strangers are ‘rare’

The Hong Kong College of Psychiatrists said in a statement on Saturday that: “Individuals with severe mental illness with violence tendency are a minority, and serious attacks on strangers are very rare.”

According to the college, overseas studies had revealed that severe mental illnesses might appear to increase the risk of violence. However, the increased risk was mainly confined to individuals with multiple risk factors, such as additional substance misuse or failing to follow treatment plans.

“There are available psychiatric treatments, which could effectively improve the mental conditions and substantially bring down the risk of violence to others,” the college said.

“Any misunderstanding would only worsen their conditions, increasing their risk of relapses, and deter them from seeking timely treatment.”

The college added that earlier identification for individuals requiring psychiatric assessment and public awareness of severe mental illness are “crucial.”

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Mandy Cheng is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. Previously, she worked at Ming Pao, focusing on investigative and feature reporting. She also contributed to Cable TV and others.