Unemployed man sets himself on fire outside British job center

People line up outside a job center in Bristol, UK, on Mar. 18, 2009.
Matt Cardy

A 48-year-old job-seeker in Birmingham, UK, tied himself to the railings outside the Selly Oak job center this morning and set himself on fire, the Birmingham Mail reported.

“I think it was something to do with a payment he had not received,” an eyewitness told the Birmingham Mail. “He would have to have been very desperate to have done something like that.”

After threatening to kill himself, the man reportedly splashed himself with gasoline, then set himself alight, according to the Birmingham Mail.

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Local police rushed to the scene and sprayed him with fire extinguishers, according to the Telegraph.

The man, whose identity has not been released, suffered burns to his lower legs, according to the Telegraph. A West Midlands Police spokesperson said his injuries are not life-threatening, and he is currently recovering in the hospital.

The job center was evacuated and closed for the rest of the day, the Birmingham Mail reported.

Staff at the job center had recently received new guidelines for handling “suicide and self-harm declarations from customers,” following cuts to the incapacity benefit and disability living allowance, the Telegraph reported.

Protest group Birmingham Against The Cuts said it would hold a demonstration outside the job center on Saturday to protest the benefit cuts and "demonization of claimants,” the Telegraph reported.

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