Iranian refugee tried to burn herself to death from despair

The husband of an Iranian refugee on Nauru who tried to burn herself to death says despair over indefinite detention was to blame for the suicide attempt.

Last week, the woman locked herself in the family's accommodation unit and set it alight.

Security guards rescued her before flames destroyed the building.

The woman has now been placed under the care of the Immigration Department controlled mental health unit on Nauru.

Shirdel said his 30-year-old wife, Fatima, did not keep her desperation about life on Nauru secret.

He said there had been previous attempts at self harm, but not like last week.

"She told me everything and she said, 'I'm getting tired of this life and I don't want to continue this life. I want to kill myself'," Shirdel said.

Fatima did not suffer any physical injuries, but Shirdel said his wife was in an even-more-fragile mental state because her attempt to kill herself failed.

"I just need her to be back. Please bring back my wife to me," he said.

The couple had hoped to settle in Australia when they arrived by boat, in August 2013 at Christmas Island.

But six months later they were transferred to Nauru.