Tina Malone, 61, gives first interview after devastating death of husband Paul, 41 - 'I miss him so badly'

Tina Malone has opened up for the first time about her husband Paul's suicide
Tina Malone has opened up for the first time about her husband Paul's suicide -Credit:Tim Merry/Mirror Express

Shameless actress Tina Malone has opened up for the first time about her husband Paul Chase's suicide and her plans to launch a charity in his honour. Her army veteran husband tragically took his own life at the age of 41 after a year-long battle with deteriorating mental health.

Tina, 61, exclusively told OK!: "I've not spoken about this publicly until this minute. It's the first time I've said it and confirmed it. Paul did commit suicide. I believe in transparency. I'll never ever get over it, never, because I miss him so badly and I love him so much and he is all around us. One thing I know... he's in a better place than here."

Paul was a former member of the 22nd Regiment of the Cheshires, serving tours in Northern Ireland, Belize, Iraq Afghanistan and The Falklands. He dedicated a decade of his life to serving his country, but ultimately, it was his internal battles that he couldn't win.

When police officers arrived at the Liverpool home she shared with Paul, Tina knew something was terribly wrong. She recalls: "Paul hadn't come home the previous night. I heard sirens and saw flashing blue lights and I knew. I just knew."

Tina Malone opened up about her husband Paul's death
Tina Malone opened up about her husband Paul's death -Credit:Tim Merry/Mirror Express

Tina fell head over heels for Paul at a boot camp in 2009. Despite their 21-year age gap, they got married and had their daughter Flame, 10, when Tina was 50.

She admits: "If I didn't have Flame I really wouldn't want to be here." Speaking about his mental state before his tragic end, she shares: "He felt lost, he felt useless, He couldn't fight any more. Drugs weren't recreational. Drink wasn't recreational or social. The burden of responsibility was too much."

In 2023, the Ministry of Defence finally disclosed the number of suicides among military veterans for the first time, following campaigns to support veterans transitioning back to civilian life.

According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2021 (the most recent year) among men In Paul's age group of veterans, aged 35 to 44, deaths by suicide per 100,000 were higher than those in the general population - with 33.5 deaths, compared to 18.8 among non-veterans.

Tina and Paul were together for more than 15 years
Tina and Paul were together for more than 15 years -Credit:Sunday Mirror

Now Tina is launching a charitable foundation named Paul's Flame on 28 May, Paul's birthday, to assist people in crisis. She believes witnessing the horrors of war led to his PTSD, diagnosed three years ago. As his anxiety and depression escalated, he turned to alcohol and drugs.

Tina shared: "When he got drunk he would ramble about the army and I would tell him, 'You have depression, you have emotional issues because of what you've seen,' but he would sweep it away. He'd say, 'How will I get a job if I have that?'

"But this is a man who served his country and saved lives. He admitted it in the end but by then things had gone too far. He couldn't find a way back. We have to talk more about suicide - that's why I am speaking out now. It is the biggest cause of death in men under the age of 50 but there is still a stigma around it; there's not enough support. What are we actually doing to help people like Paul?"

The actress, known for her roles as Mo McGee in Brookside and Mimi Maguire in Shameless, added: "The only way I can get through this is by fighting. Fighting for change and addressing the issues facing veterans and soldiers and trying to help others."

The couple met at a fitness boot camp in 2009
The couple met at a fitness boot camp in 2009 -Credit:Sunday Mirror

She met Paul at a Peak District boot camp where he was a personal trainer, shortly after her stint on Celebrity Big Brother.

Reminiscing about the day they fell for each other, she said: "There was me - no lashes on, sweating, looking like nothing on earth but we talked and talked. We chatted about his Army service, particularly Iraq. He didn't know who I was, didn't know I'd just come out of Celebrity Big Brother. We just got on."

At a camp event, Tina, who is also a mum to 42 year old Danielle from a previous relationship and a grandmother to seven year old Dorothy, spotted him dancing and knew he was special.

"I love a man who can move so that was it. We texted a few times and went on a date, spending the weekend in Liverpool. Thirteen days later he moved in with me. I told him 'I am morbidly and clinically obese and bipolar. I'm self-obsessed, self-absorbed, opinionated, loud and brassy.

Tina looks back on her life with Paul
Tina looks back on her life with Paul -Credit:Tim Merry/Mirror Express

"If I want to make a lemon, drizzle cake and watch The Sopranos at 3am, I'm going to do it. I'm unconventional, I'm eccentric, strong and emotional. He just looked at me and said: 'I'll give it a go'."

They tied the knot in a lavish ceremony in Manchester with 600 guests, and had a blast before his mental health took a turn for the worse.

"We travelled all over the world. We swam with sharks in Hawaii, we partied with the craziest people in LA. We had the most wonderful time," she recalls. Despite medical advice, they decided to have Flame through IVF.

She chuckles: "The doctor said, 'You're 49, obese, have had drink and drug issues and work an 80-hour week. I'm not sure it's advisable to have a baby'. And when he said to Paul, 'You do know this treatment will make her emotional, screaming, crying, highly strung - everything will be about her', he just shrugged and said, 'No change there then!'"

The couple welcomed daughter Flame in 2013
The couple welcomed daughter Flame in 2013 -Credit:Sunday Mirror

A devout Catholic, Tina found great comfort in her faith and remembers him being an amazing dad to Flame. "He was fun. He'd let her ride her bike down the hill without me knowing, sneak her out to MacDonald's. They'd climb trees in the woods opposite our home together. And they both loved to draw and paint," she shares.

However, she quickly understood that his experiences in combat had significantly affected his mental state.

She reveals: "He'd concealed his PTSD, but imagine if you've been at war and you can't count how many people you killed. How is that doable? How do you come back from that? He loved the Army but it left him scarred."

Tina, who herself grappled with alcohol problems and depression, but has now been sober for over 20 years, concedes that she worried about finances as Paul's community work assisting struggling teens dwindled and his self-esteem plummeted.

"The last 12 months have been hell. It was a rapid downward progression for Paul," she admits. Always keen on staying fit, he ceased attending the gym.

"He was using prescription drugs and cocaine, he borrowed money and he lied. He was desperate," she states.

The actress has been honest with her daughter
The actress has been honest with her daughter -Credit:Tim Merry/Mirror Express

They briefly separated, but eventually reunited and Paul tried to take his own life. Paul was admitted to a psychiatric unit in a Liverpool hospital, but Tina explains that due to capacity issues, he was transferred to an 'under pressure' community-based mental health facility.

He also got specialist support for veterans battling addiction and collaborated with The Block, a community interest company, which offers help for armed forces veterans.

"They do a brilliant job although they get no funding," Tina shared, opening up about the support her late husband had. "If Paul felt he was getting angry or he was crying that's where he could go."

However, Paul's mood swings led to tensions at home - including a dispute over finances just a day before his untimely passing... but they reconciled. Tina recalls with heartache: "He thought he was a drain on me, he said he was no good for me. It was awful."

On the fateful day of his death, one of Paul's final acts was to lovingly prepare a meal for Flame. "Then he kissed me, said 'See you later,' and went out. Hours later he was dead."

Tina is now setting up a charity in aid of Paul
Tina is now setting up a charity in aid of Paul -Credit:Tim Merry/Mirror Express

Paul's military comrades turned out in force for his funeral, with some serving as pallbearers. His service dress cap was poignantly placed atop the flag-covered coffin while the haunting notes of the Last Post filled the air.

Two months have passed, yet Tina confesses she still speaks to Paul every day. "I feel him all around me; he's with me everywhere. His toothbrush is still in the bathroom, his gym bag is in the hall and his coats are still hanging up. I washed and ironed his clothes and put them away.

"I was honest from the outset with Flame about what happened. I didn't want there to be any mystery about how he died. And she tells me she has seen him both in her room and in the woods where he waved at her. It might be her way of coping but it's a comfort."

Tina expresses frustration over the inadequate support for veterans like Paul who struggle with mental health issues.

Tina wants to help others who are going through the same thing
Tina wants to help others who are going through the same thing -Credit:Tim Merry/Mirror Express

She points out: "If you have cancer or if you have alcoholism you know where to go. But it's not like that with mental health. One of his Army friends said to me: 'The thing about the British Army is they are incredible at teaching you how to be a soldier but they don't teach you how to be a civilian.'

"You've risked your life, you've seen the most horrendous things and then you have to try to reintegrate, build a life and perhaps your own business just like that. I find it astonishing there isn't more help."

In an effort to bring some positivity out of her grief, she's now focusing on launching a charity called Paul's Flame. "I don't want to raise money for a retreat or a youth club or a building with bean bags and snooker tables," she says.

"I want to build a charity to shine a light on people in poverty and in crisis who need hard cash. The single mum who needs a new washing machine, someone who has come out of the army and needs a microwave for his flat. I saw for myself when Paul died how a community came together and I want to harness that to help others.

"I am looking to help people have a brighter, better future. Paul would be extremely proud."

To get involved with Paul’s Flame contact Tina on X @TinaMalone23

If you need help with any of the issues raised, please contact Samaritans on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org, contact National Suicide Prevention Helpline UK on 0800 689 5652, SANEline on 0300 304 7000 or CALM on 0800 58 58 58

Photographer: Tim Merry, stylist: Charlotte Burton, make-up: Charlotte Sharples, video: Imade Osagiede