Introduction Suicide by self-immolation is one of the great health concerns in developing countries such as Iran. Exploration of motives for attempting suicide by self-immolation in different point of view of people with experience and information on can be considered as a crucial aspect in self-immolation prevention. The study aimed to explore motives for suicide by self-immolation in Kermanshah, Iran. Methods A qualitative approach using semi-structure interview was employed to explore motives for attempting suicide by self-immolation in Kermanshah, Iran (2012). 15 participants including 9 self-immolated patients, a patient's husband, and 5 members of medical staff of these patients were interviewed. The interviews were taped and transcribed. A content analysis using constant comparison was performed for transcribed interviews. Results Five main categories were emerged that explore motives for suicide by self-immolation including mental health problems, family problems, cultural context, self-immolation as a threat, and the distinct characteristics of the method. All categories had their specific subcategories which had been integrated based on distinct properties in a given category. More than one motive might be addressed by study participants, which listed in the appropriate categories. Conclusion There are several reasons for suicide by self-immolation that should be considered in prevention programs. There may be an interactional pattern among the motives. Further study to explore process of the interactional pattern is recommended.