FRANCE — A unemployed man who was declared ineligible to receive unemployment benefit died on Wednesday after setting himself on fire outside a job center in France.
The unnamed man, 43, was able to elude police in Nantes when they tried to stop him, going on to douse himself in petrol and setting himself alight.
Disturbingly, police were aware beforehand of the man’s intention to publicly self-immolate, BBC News reports.
On Tuesday morning, the man sent an email detailing his intention to set himself on fire to the local newspaper in Nantes, La Presse-Ocean.
The paper subsequently published the email.
In it, the man stated that he was worked enough hours to legally qualify for benefit but had been refused.
Around three hours later that same Tuesday, the man sent another email to the Nantes newspaper saying that the job center was closed adding that he would return either on Wednesday or Thursday with petrol.
As a result, police placed a watch on the center hoping to intercept the man before he could carry out his suicide, after trying unsuccessfully to contact the man.
However, police later said:
“This man arrived via an adjacent street. He was already in flames and out of sight of the police.”
Emergency services were unable to revive the man.
It has been confirmed by the State employment center in Paris that the man was registered at the Nantes job center but was no longer entitled to benefits.
The man’s death has triggered a degree of debate in France about the state of the economy and the plight of marginalized groups. Current unemployment rates in France have recently risen to numbers not since in 12 years.
Local politicians and media voices have also reacted to the suicide with horror, as moves for a formal inquest begin.
“The collective reality of unemployment should not make us forget the everyday, individual distress of each unemployed person,” said Jacques Auxiette, chairman of the Pays de la loire regional council.
According to The Age, this latest self-immolation is just the latest in a series of self-immolations in France since a street vendor in Tunisia set himself on fire in December 2010 [he died in January 2011] to draw attention to his struggle with local authorities.
In August 2011, a 57-year-old unemployed father of four set himself on fire outside a public housing office in the Paris suburb of Mantes-la-Jolie. That same year, a 44-year-old teacher embroiled in disputes with her students, and a 57-year-old Telecom worker did the same.