After Waffle House shooter's trial, mental health expert says right treatment could have saved lives

Travis Reinking to spend entire life in prison
Amy Sulman-Gibbs
Posted at 4:36 PM, Feb 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-07 06:49:12-05

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WTVF) — Travis Reinking has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for killing four people: DeEbony Groves, Akilah DaSilva, Joe Perez, Jr. and Taurean Sanderlin.

During the Waffle House murder trial, Reinking's mental illness was on full display.

The American Psychiatric Association says nearly one in 5 U.S. adults experience some form of mental illness. But experts say it can be treatable.

"Recovery with mental health is not just possible, it's probable. I am the standard," said Amy Sulam-Gibbs.

Not only is Sulam-Gibbs treating her mental health diagnosis, but she's also been working in a behavioral health setting for 10 years.

"Just because someone has a medical health diagnosis, in no way means they are prone to violence. That's actually the exception to the rule. Most people who have a mental health diagnosis are like me. They're in treatment and they're being successful and giving back to the community," Sulam-Gibbs said.

Like many, she's heard Reinking had a severe mental health issue at the time of the 2018 Waffle House mass shooting.

"It bothers me because I see someone who is very sick, and someone who could have lived a fantastic life as a productive member of society if families take it seriously," she said.

Sulam-Gibbs encourages parents or anyone with a loved one who may be experiencing a mental health problem to reach out to a doctor.

"Even if they brush you off, say these behaviors are making me as their parent uncomfortable and I would like for you to give me a referral to a professional who can diagnose, treat or test them, and see what might be going on," she said.

She says to also make sure your relative or friend knows they have your support.

"Set up that appointment, help them, hold their hand, say we're going to navigate this together because something is a little off with you, and I want your quality of life to be as amazing as possible," she said.

If you or a loved one are experiencing a mental health crisis, help is available 24/7. You can call the statewide crisis line at any time. The number is 855-CRISIS-1 or 855-274-7471.