BACKGROUND: Despite considerable loss of life by deliberate self-burning in low and middle-income countries, few scholars have examined psychiatric factors such as adverse life events that may be related to self-immolation. METHODS: This case-control study investigated adverse life-events as risk factors for self-immolation patients admitted to a burn center serving the western region of Iran. Variables investigated included the following adverse life-events: unplanned pregnancy, infertility, homelessness, financial hardship, problems with friends, intimate relationship break-up , school or university failure, anxiety about school/university performance, problems at work, personal history of suicide attempts, family history of suicide attempts, individual history of mental disorders, and malignant disease. RESULTS: Financial hardship (OR=3.35, 95% CI=1.19-9.90), intimate relationship break-up (OR=5.45, 95% CI=1.20-11.99), and personal history of suicide attempts (OR=7.00, 95% CI=1.38-35.48) were associated with increased risk of self-immolation. CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that financial hardship, intimate relationship break-ups, and personal history of suicide attempts are risk factors for self-immolation. Other variables studied did not play a role as individually protective or risk factors for self-immolation. Further study is needed to substantiate findings of this study and direct research toward tailoring culturally sensitive, empirically-supported interventions for prevention of self-immolation.