Patterns of deliberate self-burning in various parts of the world. A review

Burns. 2004 May;30(3):207-15. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2003.10.018.


This paper reviews the literature on deliberate self-burning (DSB) and compares patterns in various countries. Fifty-five studies of deliberate self-harm or suicide by fire published in the last 20 years were reviewed. They reported on 3351 cases of DSB, including 2296 deaths. India had the highest absolute number of cases, the highest fatality rate, and the highest contribution of self-harm to burns admissions. The highest reported incidence was from Sri Lanka. Male victims generally predominated in Western countries, and females in the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent. Patients were grossly 10 years older in Europe than in Asia. The use and nature of fire accelerants, the possible roles of ethnicity, religion/faith and imitation are discussed. Three broad groups of victims were identified: psychiatric patients (Western and Middle-Eastern countries); those committing DSB for personal reasons (India, Sri Lanka, Papua-New Guinea, Zimbabwe); and those who are politically motivated (India, South Korea). Self-mutilators and self-immolators seem to be fairly distinct groups of people.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Burns / epidemiology*
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / epidemiology*
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data