To determine the rate of self-burning among all burns patients admitted to the Burns and Plastic Surgery Centre at Sulaimani University in Iraqi Kurdistan and to identify the risk factors and motives, all burns patients, aged 8 years and over, admitted between 1 September 2009 and 30 April 2010 were surveyed. Of the 200 patients interviewed, 54 (27%) reported self-burns and 146 (73%) reported accidental burns. The risk factors for self-burning included mental illness, female gender and younger age. Almost two-thirds of those who reported self-burns (32, 60.4%) had intended to kill themselves. The most commonly cited reasons for the act were family problems (24, 44%) and marital problems (13, 24%). Burns in the self-burning group were more severe and were associated with a higher mortality rate (34, 63%) than in the accidental burns group (29, 20%).