© Hong Kong Academy of Medicine. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Time to take action on filicides in Hong Kong
KL Hon, MB, BS, MD1; Karen KY Leung, MB, BS, MRCPCH1; Celia HY Chan, PhD, MSW2
1 Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Hong Kong Children’s Hospital, Hong Kong
2 Department of Social Work and Social Administration, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Corresponding author: Dr KL Hon (ehon@hotmail.com)
 Full paper in PDF
To the Editor—We previously summarised cases involving filicide in Hong Kong between 2017 and 2018.1 These cases involved children mostly aged <12 years and parents of both sexes with multi-dimensional causal factors.2 Generally, it is crucial to understand the motivation of perpetrators to provide early assessment and intervention. Systematic collection of data on filicide could elucidate these motivations and bring new insights to clinical practice; however, few countries (eg, Australia, Canada) have an official registry on filicide. We recommend setting up an official filicide registry in Hong Kong to investigate the risk factors associated with filicide in Hong Kong in order to inform early assessment and intervention as well as policy decisions. The Comprehensive Child Development Service under Hospital Authority, Department of Health, Social Welfare Department, Education Bureau and Labour and Welfare Bureau aims to identify needs of at-risk children and families in Hong Kong.3
Moreover, depression, related to loneliness, helplessness, or hopelessness, is one psychological condition present in those who committed filicides.2 4 Perpetrators might exhibit help-seeking behaviour or filicidal tendencies. Unfortunately, mental health support in Hong Kong is lacking, especially in terms of caregiver support, although it is no substitute for a strong social support network.1 Physicians may have the opportunity to prevent filicide if these warning signs can be detected.5 We recommend development of a multi-dimensional and systematic screening tool to help healthcare professionals in identifying potential cases for filicide risk.1 Physicians, especially psychiatrists, and other healthcare and social service professionals could seize the opportunity to prevent filicide if early warning signs can be identified.5
Author contributions
All authors had full access to the data, contributed to the study, approved the final version for publication, and take responsibility for its accuracy and integrity.
Conflicts of interest
As an editor of the journal, KL Hon was not involved in the peer review process. Other authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.
This letter received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.
1. Hon KL. Dying with parents: an extreme form of child abuse. World J Pediatr 2011;7:266-8. Crossref
2. Tang D, Siu B. Maternal infanticide and filicide in a psychiatric custodial institution in Hong Kong. East Asian Arch Psychiatry 2018;28:139-43.
3. Education Bureau. Comprehensive Child Development Service. Hong Kong SAR Government 2018. Available from: https://www.edb.gov.hk/en/edu-system/preprimary-kindergarten/comprehensive-child-development-service/index.html. Accessed 21 Sep 2022.
4. Hon KL, Chan CH, Chan L. Filicides in Hong Kong. HK J Paediatr (New Series) 2019;24:48-50.
5. Klier CM, Fisher J, Chandra PS, Spinelli M. Filicide research in the twenty-first century. Arch Womens Ment Health 2019;22:135-7. Crossref