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Secret diary reveals Swedish 'snow man' pain

The Local · 9 May 2012, 13:43

Published: 09 May 2012 13:43 GMT+02:00

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“I can’t get this to work so now I will have to do what I didn’t want to do. The only way is to become a criminal and steal. And it hurts in my soul and my heart,” Skyllberg wrote in the diary, according to daily Aftonbladet.

Hailing from near Örebro in central Sweden, he was discovered in February by a pair of passing snowmobilers who had stopped to inspect what they thought was an abandoned car in a forest trail outside of Umeå in northern Sweden.

When emergency services arrived they found a severely emaciated man who claimed to have been living in the frozen car since December without any food since mid-December.

Theories as to why the man chose to isolate himself in his car were rife after his discovery, but it soon became clear that it was financial ruin that had drove him to leave everything and take to the woods in his car.

In his diary, the man described having battled financial difficulties for several months and not managing to get the help that he needed.

“Unfortunately I can’t get any help from the social services for accommodation and maintenance. I have to prove to them that I have somewhere to live for 6 months before they help me. Sweden’s politics is ‘without accommodation no financial help and with no money no accommodation’,” he wrote.

His only remaining option for survival was to steal food, according to the paper.

When he was rescued from his snow-covered car, Skyllberg told police he had been living in his car since December 19th, surviving sub-zero temperatures by eating nothing other than snow.

Story continues below…

Since his discovery, Skyllberg made the news all across the world, was stalked in hospital by British paparazzi and has had a documentary shot about his ordeal by the Discovery channel, a film he did not take part in the making of.

The Local/rm


The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

15:02 May 9, 2012 by InterceptorZone
I don't know how does everyone feel when reading such a story. I feel very sad myself. It's hard to believe that the government affords to offer a generous support to illetrate immigrants who would never plan to be value adding individuals while refusing to provide basic help for this poor native Swede! What he is asking for is his right to live: money to get some food and a place where to stay!

There should be a logic of priority here and if this case won't shake the government's politics, no other case would do. Unfortunately, he's not the only one. I feel deeply sorry for him.
16:45 May 9, 2012 by skogsbo
But, if he gave up himself and left a roof behind that was over his head, why should the state chase after him? There is probably a whole load of background here, that we'll never know and certainly more than 2 paragraphs of a one sided story. He had funds to own a car, drive up there and live for so long, so he was hardly living on the street by his wits alone.
16:52 May 9, 2012 by k2kats
It does indeed sounds like a sad story where either the system isn't reaching the most vulnerable, someone felt so isolated that he couldn't figure out how to get help with potential or real obstacles in the system, or both. May his plight serve as a stimulus for reflection and change.
17:17 May 9, 2012 by FutureHuman
@ intercepterZone,

It is really sad that the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear about a poor white fella is that he's poor because of 'illeterate immigrants'. It's a little bit ironic that you talk about illiteracy.
20:14 May 9, 2012 by InterceptorZone

If I watch a show talking about the legendary hospitality of Sweden when welcoming these foreigners to the point that they offer roof, furniture, income and free language classes, I realize there might be plenty of resources to afford this. This is said, wouldn't be more understandable to begin by offering shelters to Swedes in need? Unfortunately, you miss the fact that Sweden today is not Sweden in 90s. If this doesn't make sense to you, I'm sorry I can't explain it better. It's also useless to try to chase my spelling mistakes. You make no point what-so-ever. It has never been a question of white or black for me. But, I kind of believe that the poor guy you called strangely "white" fella, had/has more willingness to contribute to the economics, pay taxes and promote productivity. While "others" they live with the government help forever. This is not the place to discuss this but it just came up. I've been once involved in volunteering mission targeting these kind of cases, and for my surprise, it is countless the number of persons who were once successful businessmen, doctors, accountants,.. they had families, wives, kids.. but today nothing is left.

@Skogsbo: the guy spent a whole winter in a car, in an isolated place, covered with snow, without any food, in most of coldest areas of the planet. Please close your eyes and think about. Do you think someone would do that if he wasn't that desperate?
21:14 May 9, 2012 by philster61
Poor bugger. I can truly understand his plight. This is the result of living under a socialist government whom at the end of the day, couldn't care less about you..
21:32 May 9, 2012 by skogsbo
earth to interceptor, firstly he was far from the coldest place on the planet and this winter wasn't as cold as the previous two, as far as Sweden goes. Next he was not in his car all winter, he ventured out and was seen buying stuff in a local shop, perhaps the one he claims to have stolen from? Desperate, yes perhaps in the sense of not carrying a full deck of cards, but not in the sense of being driven from his home. If that were the case you would drive somewhere a lot more sensible to set up home, not drive up a remote forest track and get deliberately stuck in the snow. Don't believe all you read, especially, when you know it is probably only a 25% of the story. You will notice he hasn't made any documentary, he could have sold his story and made money if that's what he really needed from the state, and his family haven't said anything either. Look beyond the headlines all is not what it appears.
21:55 May 9, 2012 by AdamVikingen

Socialist government? You do know Sweden´s current government is Conservative (and i bet you are from the US since you say all Socialist ideologies are bad, when pretty much the rest of the world have nothing against socialists :/)
23:30 May 9, 2012 by theibmsstate
in sweden many people are hungry for food, no jobs nothing, jobs are only by reference.
07:16 May 10, 2012 by skogsbo
adam, interesting post, only I think you targetted the wrong person I have never mentioned governments/socialist or conservatives in any posts! Incidentally, it's quite old school to label parties as con. or soc. etc. is they may claim one thing, but actually have policies pointing towards the other. Left or right? Also I'm certainly not from the US.

ibmstate, there are loads of jobs in Sweden, very very few people are hungry for anything, unemployment is lower than most of Europe.. I presume you are moaning because you think Sweden should give jobs to those who don't speak Swedish?
08:53 May 10, 2012 by muscle
this is the problem you face when you are living under the influence of mortgages and debts!

I know many people, who love to take loans and say that this is the way of living. Wrong! All these people see are the good cases. I hope the case of this guy brings some sense to those who considers loans as normal thing!


...but then again, i am sure many of you will disagree with it as this will take hell lot of time to get enough money . Well its upto you, either this sad story or getting something you want at old age!
11:24 May 10, 2012 by McChatter
Wonder what he's been doing for the past three months - i.e. after he was detected.

@TL - the past perfect tense of the verb "to drive" is "driven" and not "drove". Sweden's news in English?
16:54 May 10, 2012 by Douglas Garner
Good one, McChatter! Of course when I criticized the Local a while back, they claimed to have only native English speakers doing the translations and were not using Google Translate, etc. Perhaps they should go back to elementary school.
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