SYDNEY: No one can know the mind of Sydney shopping mall killer Joel Cauchi, but psychiatrists say one underlying cause of his rampage is evident: he had schizophrenia, stopped his medication and fell out of treatment.

People have searched for a fathomable motive since the April 13 knife attack at Bondi Junction, in which five women and a male security guard were stabbed to death and another dozen wounded, including a nine-month-old girl.

Cauchi’s parents have said their son was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 17 and was successfully treated for about 18 years. A serious mental disorder, schizophrenia can cause hallucinations, delusions and disordered behaviour. It requires lifelong treatment.

New South Wales police commissioner Karen Webb said it was “obvious” to her and detectives that the 40-year-old Cauchi had targeted women and avoided men, sparking a media debate about misogyny in Australia.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described the gender breakdown among the victims as “concerning” and vowed to do more to combat violence against women, citing a toll of one woman dying at the hands of a man they knew every week.

“But we will never know what was in the mind of the perpetrator of these acts,” said professor Ian Hickie, co-director of health and policy at the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre. “Ordinary people are trying to impose a rational explanation,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2024

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