By: Tiasia Saunders, Editor-in-Chief of TBT
Tiffany Ahianor’s high school graduation picture. Photos Courtesy of Nathalie Ahianor-Kongo and Jasmine Jones
Tiffany Ahianor was an outgoing and caring 20-year-old psychology major at Howard University. She committed suicide on Nov. 21, 2021, and her family members and friends are still grappling with it.
“You would have had to know her. She was always doing everything good for everyone else. You do not meet people like her more than once in your life,” Jasmine Jones, a junior psychology major and fellow high school colleague and friend of Tiffany’s, said.
Ahianor spent most of her free time helping others through community, volunteer and tutoring services. She dreamed of becoming a psychologist and helping people fix their life problems.
Tiffany’s mother, Nathalie Ahianor-Kongo, cannot believe her daughter is gone and remembers her as always being willing to put others’ needs before her own, “In her private life, she went to Ghana just to go help kids and teach them English. She also helped build a school there and she was just big about community.”
Tiffany enjoyed spending time with friends and family. She was more excited to set foot on Mecca’s grounds and truly make it a home for herself; however, the pandemic protocols, similar to other college students, changed her plans.
According to the National Library of Medicine, the pandemic has resulted in depleting mental health levels in college students. Due to a virtual/hybrid learning curriculum, the ‘typical’ college experience has transitioned and it has made it more difficult to interact with reality.
“In the second year, she moved to campus. I think she was very disappointed. She was very unhappy because she was locked in a room all day due to her online classes. I tried to talk to her about hanging in there because everyone else was in the same situation,” said Nathalie Ahianor-Kongo.
“I also told her she could switch schools, but she said no, she wanted to have the Howard experience,” she continued.
Ahianor’s mother explained how she felt after learning of her daughter’s death, “I was devastated. Even her friends knew before me because I was overseas. Since I had called the responsible person in the school something should have been done further than just informing one person.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates in the United States increased by 4 percent between 2020 and 2021. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students.
Before the pandemic, Ahianor was a typical high schooler who enjoyed spending time with friends, going out to eat and to the movies. In 2020, thousands of campuses had to change their curriculum plan to accommodate the seriousness of the disease.
“She was just a very fun happy-go-lucky ray of sunshine. I would just go to her dorm and my day would instantly be amazing. You don’t meet people like her more than once in your life,” Jones said.
Tiffany’s mother and friends would like her to be remembered for how caring she was for others and always willing to put others first. For information about suicide prevention and mental health awareness visit the following site.
Click the link to visit Tiffany’s tribute page.
The Transition Back to the New ‘Norm’
The exhausting mental toil of the pandemic and its impact on college students’ ability to balance it all.
By Tiasia Saunders, Editor-In-Chief of TBT
Tiffany Ahianor smiling. Photos Courtesy of Nathalie Ahianor-Kongo and Jasmine Jones
Since the pandemic, mental health levels in college students have been depleting. It is difficult to slowly transition to life after COVID-19 and the rigorous pandemic protocols.
According to American Psychological Association, college students are under more stress than ever due to balancing coursework, financial strain, social life and personal life. It is essential to maintain mental well-being before becoming too overwhelmed.
Tiffany’s mother continues to fight for more acknowledgment of her daughter’s death and mental health awareness in general. “Obviously, some of my questions were left unanswered. Trying to reach out to the president with a subject like this and it just felt like he didn’t really pay attention.”
According to a statement from HU, “Howard University is aware of the sad and premature passing of our Bison, Tiffany Ahianor in November of 2021. When the Office of Student Affairs was informed of Tiffany’s passing, Howard University’s vice president of student affairs, and members of the residence life team contacted Tiffany’s family, friends and residence hall suitemates to offer condolences, grievance counseling and special assistance with coordination of necessary campus-related logistics as requested by Tiffany’s family.”
“Specifically, the family wanted to coordinate a day during the University’s closure to collect Tiffany’s belongings. Without hesitation, our director and assistant director of residence life physically helped Tiffany’s family move her belongings at the family’s convenience,” it continued.
Howard’s counseling services are accessible online and in the Office of Student Affairs. The counseling services range from individual to group sessions.
“They could have just acknowledged it more. Just acknowledging mental health and making it a priority on campus would be more helpful because there are more people like Tiffany,” Jones said.
As of now, HU admin has implemented several mental health days throughout the semester for faculty, staff and students. On these days, university operations are closed for the emotional well-being of everyone.
According to an HU statement, “The University has been very active in creating and delivering mental wellness programming targeting specific concerns. We partner with various student organizations across campus and with our healthcare vendors to augment our efforts. Our students have been very instrumental in serving their peers.”
Click the link to stay up to date with mental health resources.