Following a battle with PTSD from his time in Afghanistan, Mel B‘s bodyguard, ex-corporal Ashely Bernard Nickless, 31, committed suicide in late 2019; he was found hanging in his military uniform and medals.
Nickless worked for the Spice Girl and other celebrities, including the cast of Towie. He was discharged from service in 2017 after showing symptoms of PTSD, including panic attacks, flashbacks and nightmares.
Nickless, who enlisted in Royal Marines Commando in 2007, was said to have seen his friends killed while in Afghanistan and, according to North Wales Live, he was left with shrapnel in his arm.
The hearing said that he had been suffering anxiety and paranoia earlier in his life and his family became “scared of his behavior” after he was discharged from the military. He was said to have mounting debts and was also reported to have attempted suicide in the past.
After being discharged, the ex-marine and weapons specialist worked as private security for celebrities and also served as maritime security in Africa.
According to The Sun, the family of the deceased Nickless said in a hearing in North Wales: “Ashley was a very popular person with a lot of friends. He was a cheeky chap and was held in high regard by the Royal Marines. He will be very sadly missed by us all.”
The hearing on his death revealed that Nickless was found dead at his home in November 2019. He was wearing his full uniform and had three notes nearby along with family photos. The ex-marine wrote about his problems with PTSD and thanked his family for their support.
Coroner Elizabeth Dudley-Jones ruled the death as suicide and said that she hopes the family can “all support each other going forward.”
Following his death, Mel B said that he was “one with the family.”
Ross Kemp, the former EastEnders star, also paid tribute to the deceased soldier.
He tweeted in December: “I was so sad to hear of the death of Ashley Nickless. I had the honour of meeting Ash in Afghanistan, he was a fine Royal Marine and a fine man. My thoughts are with his family and friends at this time. More needs to done [sic] to help ex-service people with mental health issues, particularly those with PTSD.”
I was so sad to hear of the death of Ashley Nickless. I had the honour of meeting Ash in Afghanistan, he was a fine Royal Marine and a fine man. My thoughts are with his family and friends at this time. More needs to done to help ex-service people with mental health issues…
— Ross Kemp (@RossKemp) December 1, 2019
“We cannot underestimate the help that is needed. If you are suffering or if someone you know is suffering please reach out to charities like @CombatStress who are doing brilliant work,” he added.
The Department of Veterans Affairs released data around troops who served during Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. It said that the troops on the ground have high rates of PTSD — 11-20 percent have or had PTSD and may be at risk for other mental health disorders.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
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