A technique that is handy on a Linux system is using domain sockets:

import socket
import sys
import time

def get_lock(process_name):
    # Without holding a reference to our socket somewhere it gets garbage
    # collected when the function exits
    get_lock._lock_socket = socket.socket(socket.AF_UNIX, socket.SOCK_DGRAM)

    try:
        # The null byte (\0) means the the socket is created 
        # in the abstract namespace instead of being created 
        # on the file system itself.
        # Works only in Linux
        get_lock._lock_socket.bind('\0' + process_name)
        print 'I got the lock'
    except socket.error:
        print 'lock exists'
        sys.exit()


get_lock('running_test')
while True:
    time.sleep(3)

It is atomic and avoids the problem of having lock files lying around if your process gets sent a SIGKILL

You can read in the documentation for socket.close that sockets are automatically closed when garbage collected.