Suicide by self-immolation in Tunisia: A 10 year study (2005-2014)

Burns. 2016 Nov;42(7):1593-1599. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2016.04.019. Epub 2016 Jul 7.


Introduction: In Tunisia, few data are available about self-immolation epidemiology especially in the absence of official statistics on suicides. The aim of our study was to analyze the trends of suicide by self-immolation over a period of ten years (2005-2014).

Methods: We conducted a descriptive, retrospective study including all the cases of self-immolation suicides that occurred over a period of 10 years (2005-2014) and autopsied in the Department of Legal Medicine of the Charles Nicolle Hospital of Tunis, including self-immolation occurring in Northern Tunisia as well as those committed in remaining governorates and transferred before death to the central intensive care unit of burnt in Tunis receiving patients from all over Tunisia (about 80% of cases occurring in Tunisia).

Results: 235 cases of self-immolation were collected. The average age at death was 34.1±12.43 years (range 14-83 years). Gender ratio was of 3.27. Psychiatric history was mentioned in 32.8% of cases, represented by schizophrenia in 17.9% and depression in 12.3% of cases. 12.3% had a history of suicide attempts, and 7.3% presented a history of suicidal threats. The number of casualties of suicide by self-immolation tripled after 2011 with a rising trend during the next three years and slight drop in 2014. The most reported reason in our study was decompensation of a psychiatric illness (24.7%). Self-immolation occurred most frequently in a private home (34.5%) or a public place (30.2).

Conclusion: Our study showed that self-immolation affects essentially, young men, who are unemployed and mostly having mental diseases.

Keywords: Burns; Self-immolation; Suicide; Tunisia.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Burns*
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Fires*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Paranoid Disorders / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Schizophrenia / epidemiology
  • Sex Distribution
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data
  • Tunisia / epidemiology
  • Unemployment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult