Major Department



College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


BS (Bachelor of Science)

Session and Year of Graduation

Spring 2021

Honors Major Advisor

Steven Stong

Thesis Mentor

Jeffrey Desimone


Excessive competition and social comparison among high achieving students is a well-documented phenomenon which is particularly existent withing accelerated high school programs such as the Advanced Placement (AP) Program. Hyper-competitiveness, social comparison, and excessive pressure to perform at a high level, among other mechanism, have been shown to positively impact a score of negative mental health outcomes by increasing their incidence. This analysis examines the effect of expansion of the AP Program to additional high schools and exam scores sent to more colleges on adolescent suicide rates. I utilize data on the AP program from the College Board and data on suicide rates from the Center for Disease Control, and use a two-way fixed effects framework to estimate the effects of the AP program on suicide rates for 15-18 year old adolescents. Overall, I find that for both specifications, increases in the number of schools offering AP exams and colleges receiving scores each predict significantly higher suicide rates among 15-18 year olds with joint significance levels of around 1%. The results indicate that the specifications had a combined effect of raising the suicide rate among high school students by nearly three quarters of a standard deviation, which amounts to nearly 30% of the sample average suicide rate. Further, I examined the effect on males and females separately and found that expansion of the program to more schools positively and significantly impacted male suicide rates, which account for nearly 80% of suicides within this age group.


Advanced Placement, suicide, high school, gifted, competition

Total Pages

29 pages


Copyright © 2021 Jessica Rindels