At noon on Wednesday, a 43-year-old man got off a bus near a state employment agency in the western city of Nantes. He stopped on a side street around 50 metres from the office, where he discarded his house keys, then doused himself with gasoline. French police waiting at the scene saw the burning man arrive at a sprint and said that, despite efforts to put out the flames, it was too late.

The case of Djamal Chaab, whose application for jobless benefits had been rejected by the agency earlier in the week, has caused consternation in France. It is the latest in a growing list of job-related suicides to hit the country, which is struggling with low growth and record high unemployment.