A job seeker doused himself in gasoline and lit himself on fire outside of a Birmingham, England, job center Thursday, the Birmingham Mail reports. The police responded to scene where they were successfully able to put out the fire after the man suffered significant burns to his legs. The man's identity has yet to be released.
If unemployed, the man's situation isn't unique. Today, 2.75 million people in the UK are unemployed, according to the Guardian. That's a dangerously high number. Unemployed "minimum and medium skilled" Americans are about seven times more likely to die during their unemployment spell than their employed, "highly skilled" counterparts, according to a recent study published in the American Journal for Public Health. Economic growth isn't so hot over there either.
Self-immolation has been a surprisingly frequent response to such economic hardship. Earlier this month, a Knoxville man lit himself on fire in his front yard after receiving bad financial news. Months before that, two Italian men lit themselves on fire due to their desperate financial situations, the BBC reported. Italy's government is presently at the center of the ongoing European debt crisis and has been forced to undertake harsh spending cuts, leaving thousands of its citizens without work.
Perhaps more famous is the example of Mohammed Bouazizi. In December 2010, Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor, lit himself on fire after a policewoman confiscated his street cart and publicly slapped him, TIME Magazine reported. The response to his death is credited for sparked the fall of the Tunisian regime and the beginning of The Arab Spring.
The online response to the Birmingham man's act has been characterized as sympathetic toward the man and outraged towards the job center, the Birmingham Mail reports. A protest is planned for Saturday outside the Job Center Plus.
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