Background: Burns are injuries to the skin that might be caused by high temperatures, chemicals or different other mechanisms. In Iraq and other developing countries, burns represent an important health problem with many effects on life causing morbidity and mortality, and exert many consequences including disability, psychological impact and financial loss. The aim of this study was to explore the demographics and types of burns, factors associated with burn fatalities, and to evaluate the magnitude of this problem with focusing on causes and manner of thermal deaths among the victims.
Methods: Data were collected retrospectively from autopsies of burn-related deaths reported to Department of Forensic Medicine in Basrah province, southern part of Iraq during a period of 4 years from 1st of January 2013 to 31st of December 2016, along with information retrieved from hospital records, history and information from close relatives.
Results: Out of total of 4244 autopsies conducted during that period, 373 of them were burn-related deaths. The majority of the victims were females (75%). Most of the injuries (89%) were caused by flame. The commonest age group involved in both males and females was (20-29) years. Suicidal burns constituted 62%, and the higher proportion was seen among females. Domestic problems along with psychiatric illnesses were the main factors associated with self-inflicted burns.
Conclusion: Burning deaths represent a large proportion among the overall unnatural deaths in Basrah city, the higher proportion of burn-related deaths was observed in females, and among suicidal burn deaths, females constituted more than ninety percent.